The media frenzy spawned by the BP oil well spill and the government’s response to the disaster reminds us that the security agent plays an integral role in managing the way a story gets reported and, therefore, the public perception of the company or government agency. Even a good PR message can be squandered or even destroyed if the presentation is mangled because of poor control.
During the very public clean up of the oil spill, there were multiple events where members of the media were reportedly denied access to interview clean-up workers. These reports became serious enough that Mr. Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP America, Inc., issued a formal statement on June 9, 2010, flatly stating that these reports were not true. However, video footage clearly depicted one such event between reporter Scott Walker, a reporter from NBC New Orleans affiliate WDSU, being denied access to do just that by individuals purporting to be private security officers two days after Mr. Suttles reportedly denied this was happening.
Security agents are not often in control of the content of the media message. Nevertheless, they should always be in control of how that message gets delivered, because how it gets presented and reported will affect the company’s brand. There are some proven effective methods for making sure you get the best results from the press corps.
(To finish reading January 2011's online exclusive, "VIP Press Coverage and Executive Protection," please click here.)