Image: Crain's Chicago Business
When your industry is under attack, hiding from the media may seem like an attractive defense, but removing yourself from the conversation only gives more power to your assailants. Case in point is Chicago’s three largest beer distributors caught up in an investigative story by Crain’s Chicago Business.
Crain’s said, “Mirroring the practices of Chicago politics, the city’s beer marketers engage in pay-to-play, exchanging cash and freebies for tavern taps.” As you probably know, pay-to-play is no joking matter in Illinois.
Everyone from brewers to bars and distributors was implicated in the report. Those who declined or were unprepared to comment gave more credibility to their opponent’s position and opened themselves up to speculative assumptions.
Any reporter worth his salt wants to appear fair and even-handed by telling all sides of a story. If you’re not making your case, someone else will make it for you.
It was hard to miss this story: new, gruesome photos and images would be required on packaging and Ads, under a new requirement from the Food and Drug Administration.
"We want to make sure every person who picks up a pack of cigarettes knows exactly what the risk is they are taking," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Responses ranged from support to disappointment that the new requirements did not go far enough. Tobacco companies, however, said little. True, there's not a lot the industry can say in such a situation, but silence can often appear more negative than even a even a benign reply.
When your industry is under attack or faces heightened public scrutiny, there are often positive elements of a story that need to be told. Hiding from the press may be your first instinct, but it may not be the best.