When there is negative publicity, it is a brave communicator who says nothing. Sometimes, though, that is the right thing.
We live in an era of constant noise. Those who say nothing about themselves are often described by the media as “reclusive”, “secretive” and so on. As PR advisers and marketers, we are paid to communicate. The idea of not communicating is almost counter-intuitive. But when to say nothing? Sometimes, it really is best. But here’s the health warning: staying silent can only be considered an option if the organisation or individual is so highly regarded that their audiences believe they don’t need to respond – that the accusation must be false or the criticism unfounded. But this only applies to people who really are respected. The problem arises if someone believes they do have this standing, but in fact they don’t. In this case staying silent will have a disastrous effect; instead of being seen as above the fray and beyond reproach, when they say nothing, it will be interpreted as an admission of some sort.
Inaction is not simple to achieve, if that is chosen course of action. Everyone must stay silent permanently, no response from anyone in the organisation, ever. Things have a habit of seeping out.
In general, the best advice is to be open with the media. Admit mistakes and difficulties and highlight achievements as well; build good media relationships based on transparency.