Monday, January 16, 2006

The importance of a speedy response to the media

In today's media environment of 24-hour news cycles and nearly instantaneous transmission of news around the world, a delay of even a few hours can mean the difference between being seen by the public as either evasive or responsive, callous or caring.

A fire early Sunday morning at a suburban Atlanta Holiday Inn killed one person and injured over two dozen more. As was the case with a January 2004 hotel fire in South Carolina that killed six, hotel officials were unresponsive to the media in the hours immediately following the fire. "Phone calls to...Holiday Inn officials were not immediately returned Sunday," said the initial AP report found on Google News. "Holiday Inn officials could not be reached for comment Sunday night," reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

To their credit, the hotel's owners issued a news release later in the day, properly expressing concern for the dead and injured while also addressing the immediate concerns of other evacuated guests; the company also confined its comments to the known facts, without speculation. Intercontinental Hotels Group, Holiday Inn's parent corporation, has issued no statements of any kind to the media.

Unfortunately, the hotel owner's news release came out after the initial AP and AJC reports reached scores of media outlets nationwide, and as of this morning the AJC story update--and a number of AP updates--still do not reflect the previous day's news release: "Holiday Inn officials could not be reached for comment." While it is unknown what channels the company used for distributing the news release other than PR Newswire, it is apparent that company's message did not reach the reporters covering the story.


Anonymous Ike said...

Does this mean you are back?

(My blog was down for a while with Hurricane Katrina as well.)

Drop me an e-mail...

11:41 PM  

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