"Public relations is essentially about developing and maintaining structured communications with stakeholders important to a business or organisation's operational and financial performance so they continue to support the business in their own ways."
The Press has accused EQC of being unprofessional in its portrayal of two of its reporters – one as "schizophrenic in his writing” and another as a "rogue reporter”.
The background to this is the EQC’s presentation to field staff on Monday reminding them of the organisation’s responsibilities to the media and that media enquiries should be referred to the designated media contact person.
This story is evidence of natural tensions between an organisation in the spotlight (and even under siege) and the legitimate role of the media – a fact acknowledged by EQC.
Any organisation that’s dealt with the media on sensitive issues will have some sympathy for the frustrations of the EQC at this time. No matter how brilliantly they respond to many claims, some people will remain disaffected and will take their complaints to the media, because they feel that is the only power they have. Whether these complaints are legitimate or not, the EQC has to accept this.
If the EQC made a mistake in it presentation to staff, it was in overtly personalising its concerns with individual reporters and preference for others. For its part the newspaper has over-reacted to this. I suspect there’ve been instances when its own reporters have privately characterised some of the EQC’s personnel in less than flattering terms. That’s just human nature.
It should not be forgotten that contacts between reporters and organisations are complex human relationships. In pressure situations there can be an added edge, and what the reporter sees as relatively straight forward is often not so, and the relationship can become prickly.
There is a long way to go in the repair and re-establishment of Christchurch. The Press and the EQC are two organisations critical to a successful outcome, and it is vital that they take stock of their respective roles and make the relationship work for everyone.
For any business, dealing with reporters can sometimes be a fraught experience – never more so than in higher-stake situations such as this. Getting professional advice is often the best course.
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