The Bottom Line: A Hoggan Blog

Hoggan PR Tip #11: Public Values Trump Private Facts

The famous American pollster Daniel Yankelovich points out in his book Coming to Public Judgment that you can't win a public argument with facts when your position offends the values of your audience.

For example, no compelling collection of crime statistics will sell the public on free heroin distribution if most people feel drug taking is morally wrong.

But, if you make a complementary moral argument - for example, that controlled drug distribution can ultimately reduce drug dependency and improve public health- you will have a better chance of reaching your audience.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #10: Honour Your Critics: They Could Become Your Best Friends

Any time you respond effectively to a customer's complaint, you have an opportunity to build real loyalty.

So honor your critics online.

Listen for legitimate complaints and respond with temperance and good faith.

This can be a challenge because the medium is littered with "trolls",  snarling vandals who take pleasure in getting people riled up for no reason.  High-profile sites also attract the attention of trolls-for-hire, people who do dirty work for the competition.

Avoid the muck, assume most people who comment on your site are legitimate and you will find friend sin the mix.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #9: Great Publicists are Great Listeners

The first step in attracting positive media coverage is learning what the media finds interesting and examining your company for elements that fit those criteria.

Keep tabs on the headlines; watch who's covering what and track which stories are gaining momentum.  At the same time, dig deep in your company for similar "newsworthy" details.

When you find one and pitch a story, listen to the response.

Follow up on press releases.

You will enjoy much greater success if you study and respond to media interest than if you try desperately to sell your favorite idea.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #8: Transparency 301: Managing Other Sources

It's never a good idea to try to manage the news, especially during a crisis.

But if it's your crisis, you have to take responsibility for the accuracy of information being reporter in the media - no matter the original source.

There is no perfect way to do this, and no way to prevent damaging and erroneous rumours completely, but you should monitor all news outlets, assess the public's reaction to stories, and correct damaging errors immediately.

Be quick to apologize for misinformation even if you are not the source.  It will demonstrate your reliability, responsibility, and concern.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #7: Transparency 201: Covering the Basics

In addition to sticky details that might damage your reputation in a crisis, reporters and the public want the basics - the who, what, where, when, why, and sometimes how.

Gather this information quickly so you can answer three basic news questions:

  • What happened?
  • What are you doing about it?
  • How will you make sure it doesn't happen again?

Report what you know.  If you don't know something, don't speculate. Admit you don't know, say that you'll try to find out, and tell them when you'll report back.

Reporters will get answers; it's best if they get them from you.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #6: Transparency 101: Rip the Band-Aid Off Quickly


In the face of a public relations crisis, one common (and very human) response is to huddle behind closed doors, circle the wagons, and hope it all blows over.

Resist the urge.

It invites the wrath of reporters and it alienates the public. Although there are exceptions, getting your whole story out, as quickly as possible, is usually the fastest way to get off the front page.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #5: Manage Media Expectations

You will be shocked in crisis by how many reporters there are and by how much time they can absorb in separate, unscheduled but urgent interviews.

If you try to ignore this onslaught, you will find reporters lurking everywhere - pressing employees and even family members for information. If you respond ad hoc, your management team will be so busy dealing with media, they won't be available to solve the crisis.

So, set a regular time for media briefings, enabling reporters to confidently pursue other work in the meantime. Then, be sure you offer something substantive.

Make the wait worthwhile.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #4: Media Bashing: A Short-term Pleasure

It's sometimes tempting to demonize the media, to point out their failings, and, in dramatic cases, to refuse to deal with them.

This is risky.

You should always move decisively to correct inaccurate media reports, and to challenge media bias if it is easily demonstrated.  But surveys show that the public appreciates the media's watchdog role.  And castigating all media can create hostility where there was none.

It is naive, especially in politics, to think of media members as your friends. It's worse to make them your enemies.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #3: Assume Intelligence, Guard Against Ignorance

Don't be too literal.  When you are trying to explain a business challenge to the public, don't overestimate people's awareness of the situation.  Assume poeple are unfamiliar with your issue and convey your point of view in a general sense.

Be accurate without allowing yourself to get bogged down in the details.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.

Hoggan PR Tip #2: Keep it Brief

If you talk too much during a media interview, you increase the likelihood of your statements being used out of context or your most important point being lost in the discussion.

Televison and radio news interviews feed on short interview statements: 10 to 15 seconds is about average.  Keep your comments short and focused.

This is part of an ongoing series of practical public relations tips taken from Jim Hoggan’s book, Do the Right Thing: PR tips for a skeptical public.

See all the tips Jim has posted so far on this page here: Jim Hoggan’s PR Tips Series.