Drivel and Poison

by Roger Pynn

Everywhere you turn today people are talking about transparency and there’s a growing fascination with the take of CEOs on the media (what’s left of it, anyway). Business Journalist William J. Holstein’s new book “Manage the Media (Don’t let the Media Manage You)” adds fuel to the fire, although the title is an oxymoron. You can’t manage the media. No one can. You can only manage yourself and what you say in your relationships with them.

On the other hand, from early reviews it is clear that Holstein has a message for the business community: play the game.

Unfortunately, in many cases today dealing with the media has become just that … and for many it may seem like blood sport. But when you take the position that you’re not going to talk with the media you might just as well press your nose in a door jamb and shut it. They become intransigent, too, and in the absence of your voice they turn to someone else to tell your story … often someone you’d rather not speak for you.

British historian, satirist and author C. Northcote Parkinson offered this advice: “The vacuum created by a failure to communicate will quickly be filled with rumor, misrepresentation, drivel and poison.”

Playing the game – even when your “opponent” may be an intern or young graduate fresh out of journalism school with little or no experience covering your world – is the only way to win. Failing to play is a clear path to forfeiture.

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