Kudos to AIPAC for Refusing Media Access: Public Relations Is About Ensuring Good Media Coverage Not Kow-Towing To Reporters

Working in public relations and, in particular on crisis management issues, PR pros have to balance between client images and reporters needs – and sometimes it is necessary to keep the press at bay.  The job of a crisis PR agency is to encourage as positive media coverage as possible for your clients – to make them look as good as possible in the media and in public.

For this reason, AIPAC should be commended today for refusing media credentials to four reporters from media outlets AIPAC, and their PR Agency deemed regular harsh critics of the state of Israel, and of the organization.  Amongst the four, one writes for a site “which emphasizes developing nations coverage as well as marginalized groups”, another “encourages advocacy in a number of areas, including human rights and social justice”, and yet another is an open anti-Zionist site.  If the reporters aren’t likely to write positive stories, then why let them attend?

Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of reporters wanting to attend AIPAC – so why grant space to publications and/or journalists likely to skew media coverage? It is hard to imagine the New York Yankees allowing a Boston sports reporter unfettered locker room access.

Organizations (or business/politicians, etc.) offer access to media with the hope, and perhaps even the expectation that media will present a positive narrative. Yet, anyone worth his salt in public relations knows all too well that media access by its very nature presents the possibility of either a good or a bad story. So, if there is choice, why ante-up with media deemed to be biased against your position when there are so many other journalists one can gamble on to better the odds? AIPAC, and Israel may not be able to avoid bad coverage from folks inclined to harm them – but there’s no reason to offer them access to the conference.

As journalists are arbiters of fate, they should expect that those on the receiving end of their opinions or ideals be cautious. There’s no reason to accept every invitation or grant all media requests. This is not an issue of Freedom of the Press; they can write whatever they want, but no one is obligated to open their arms in welcome.

Anita Dunn, a former Obama administration advisor, had it right when she said, “The press corps wouldn’t be doing its job if it weren’t demanding more access than we’re willing to give. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t occasionally irritate the press.” It’s a constant balancing act—one where PR professionals give a little and take a little – kudos to AIPAC and their public relations team for not giving in to biased media.

“Know that the amount of criticism you receive may correlate somewhat to the amount of publicity you receive.” —Donald Rumsfeld

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, 1 of the 25 largest US PR Firms, and Author of PR Book “For Immediate Release”.