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Branding and dealing with activist media programs
Activist media has taken over the role in society from civil society organizations. Programs such as Radar, Kassa, De Opstandelingen, Zembla and Argos are increasingly proving themselves to be the advocates of the Dutch citizen. And even Nieuwsuur has now exchanged its reporting for wanting to make the news itself. Because the news provision has been taken over by social media.
Many brands struggle with how to deal with the role these media now play and the pressure they can exert. For example, Thuisbezorgd was recently the head of jut in a Radar broadcast. And that happened earlier with Parkmobile, among other things. Such performances often produce uncomfortable television from the perspective of the defendant. The presenters of such programs naturally also benefit from the experience, the technique and the power of the emotion of the incidents.
The role of the media
Fortunately, we have free journalism in the Netherlands. Media are independent, have authority and are considered credible by consumers. Classic media, such as newspapers, radio and television, are still among the most trusted channels in communication. No advertising can beat that. Journalistic media are the fastest and most credible way to your target audience. But these media have also traditionally played the role of the “watchdog” on behalf of society. And that is a very important good in a free democracy.
Make sure that you always have an open attitude towards the media in principle. That does not mean that you always have to work on everything. Media have duties, such as reporting independently and truthfully. And as a brand and as an interviewee you also have rights. For example, you are free not to participate in an interview and to know in advance what will be discussed in an interview. You also have the right to sometimes not answer a question. Always explain why you cannot do that. The same applies to the decision not to cooperate in an interview. Transparency also has accepted limits, such as in the case where the privacy of data subjects is harmed or when it concerns competition-sensitive information. But explain why you can’t say anything then.
Collaborate or not?
Brands are very struggling with whether or not they should participate in these activist media programs. Which is also understandable, given the negative experiences that one has undoubtedly seen from other brands. It also requires careful consideration. For example, ask yourself the following questions when you receive a request: what medium is it and what exactly do they want, what is the purpose of the item, do I gain insight into all problems or complaints, what are the questions, what will the setting at the table , is it live or edited, can we still influence the end result and can we solve it? In short, you don’t go overnight. It must be clear what you have to gain and lose and whether you will be given the space to tell your side of the story. And if you decide to go, you will still have to find out who the most suitable spokesperson is.
If you do not get a satisfactory answer to these questions, do not cooperate and choose your own communication offensive.
Defend often motto
Too often brands participate in an activist program from the point of view “I’ll explain to them exactly how it works and show that we are right”. So from a rational defense and that is a hopeless starting point. After all, these programs are aimed at solving the problem of the victims or victims. The controversy is central. Moreover, the time of “being right is being right” has passed. Polarization and emotion also predominate in the media. It is therefore important that you realize that you will have to reach out in some way if your brand is in the “dock”. And if you are asked to increase the problem of another brand, you have to consider what that will bring you in the end. It doesn’t always make you likable and you know that boomerang will come back someday.
How can it be better?
If you decide to participate in these programs, always take as a starting point that you solve the problem and focus on the perspective of the victim. These six tips will help you do that successfully:
Preparation: prepare very well for the broadcast. Know the facts and get trained. But in the end always be yourself and therefore be authentic.
Vulnerable: opt for a modest and possibly even vulnerable setup. Especially when things have gone wrong. Arrogance kills.
Empathy: Show empathy or even compassion for the victims or victims. And that should not have been played.
Show understanding: Show understanding for the anger or disappointment in the