‘Super injunctions’ or ‘when you shouldn’t keep things quiet’

Gagging orders. Not normally done with ties.
Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Technical PR news: Unless you've been living in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere for some time now, you will be aware of the furore in the UK press caused by various super injunctions over the last seven days.

News has broken of a host of public figures who have had super injunctions put in place, stopping the media publishing their identities. Of course, this means no-one knows who the people in question are.

That is, unless you look on Wikipedia, where people keep editing the pages of the people in question to show what they've been up to. Or, if Wikileaks weren’t so busy these days you could look there. Or, if both of those on-line tools seem too esoteric for you, you could try a Google blog search. You could even just read Private Eye and master the art of juxtaposition like we used to in the old days.

So, it’s easy to find out who these people are. But that’s not the point. The point is that they are trying to keep this information out of the media.

As someone who tried quite hard to keep things out of the media during the WorldCom crisis, I can vouch for the fact that it isn’t easy.

As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to handle a crisis is to provide the press with all the correct facts. At least that way they don’t need to over exaggerate them.

This is particularly true if you are involved in technical PR rather than celebrity management. And it’s an idea Sony could have done with putting into practice this week.

Journalist Andrew Marr raised the curtain on his own super injunction, because he said he felt ‘embarrassed’ by it. "I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists," he explained. He took some criticism for this, but on balance his press coverage was more positive than it would have been had he been ‘found out’.

So my advice to companies seeking to handle a crisis is, ‘Get the facts right, communicate them and communicate clearly what you are doing about the problem’.

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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