The failure of the “No comment”

Editorial on challenges involved in distributing the messages the public needs to hear

One of the worst things an association can do for its cause is to say, “No comment.”

There are countless times that phrase, or something like it, has been used on me and it never gets old. Another good one is, “It’s not news.”

If it wasn’t news, the newspaper wouldn’t be there to talk about whatever is happening. Generally speaking saying, “No comment,” will harm your organization more than it will bring benefit. In this age of free information, with even easier access to it, taking control of the situation is in a group’s best interest.

An organization is in the know because it has all the cards, so-to-speak, and rather than hoping that trouble will disappear on its own, an organization actually has the ability to shape the outcome of the story. Not only that, readers and those concerned with the story, will respect the organization that much more for its transparency.

Regardless of whether the events are contentious or hold some breaking news information, being clear, concise and working with one’s media contacts is paramount as it will provide clarity to a confusing situation. That clarity helps dispel coffee talk and rumour-mongering.

Ponoka, and probably every community, has its fair share of dissident social media sites. They’re rife with folks WHO PREFER SHOUTING AT YOU DIGITALLY!!!!!!!! than having any kind of open discourse or consultation (emphasis on the upper case and exclamation point). These people don’t actually care what others think. They hope to create confusion and to sway people’s opinions with misinformation.

Replying on a tough topic with, “No comment,” only adds to the confusion, creating opportunities for supposition and conjecture. These rumour mills thrive in that type of uncertainty. Why would anyone want to give them more power than they already have?

Education matters when it comes to contentious issues and an organization has the opportunity and responsibility to provide that information to reduce any confusion, which may actually benefit them. If stakeholders have all the information, it helps reduce the dissension because guess what, people already know what’s happening through your efforts.

The biggest challenge I have seen for any group and the individuals involved when it comes to a potentially contentious issue is that people do not have the whole story. Granted, some things a group cannot discuss such as personnel concerns, but there are ways of getting the information out in an official capacity. If it’s done right, there is no confusion because people have all the information so that they can make an informed decision.

The other option is of course, to do nothing and say nothing. But does that really help anyone? People will look to these groups for the answers and if they aren’t provided, I suggest a deep disservice will have occurred.

Folks in rural communities have longer memories than Alberta winters and inaction or a tendency not to comment will add a notch of distrust to a group and will remain there until that group proves itself in the community. Why put your association in a trust deficit when it can actually have some credit for its transparency.

When a reporter comes up to you asking for comment, I suggest the first thing you do is welcome them and find out what they want to know.

 

Just Posted

Country Gardens owner Carmen Sim invited to international horticultural show

Located between Ponoka and Bashaw, the greenhouse owner is taking in a lifetime trip

PHOTOS: Ice racing at Mulhurst Bay at Pigeon Lake

Results of the ice racing event at Pigeon Lake

Maskwacis RCMP lay charges from home invasion

Four charged in alleged invasion using knives and gun on Samson Cree Nation - three injured

UPDATE: Highway 2 lanes were closed due to milk truck fire near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Ponoka Airport taxiway improvement costs overrun

The $328,000 project increased to $359,000, gravel cited as main reason for the increase

WATCH: Ponoka residents enjoy first skate on ice path

A community initiative helped create a skate path for families in Ponoka.

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Botox, bomb shelters, and the blues: one year into Trump presidency

A look into life in Washington since Trump’s inauguration

Most Read