Often a story will appear in the media about an emerging issue that could have serious ramifications for the company or organisation involved, yet it will carry the words, “XYZ declined to comment”.
Whether to speak or stay silent is a regular question for PR advisers. Sometimes (but not usually) silence is the best option – it depends on a number of factors including the likelihood of the story escalating, and how your response will influence this.
During issues or times of crisis, we often find ourselves working with a client’s lawyer, which brings a different dynamic. Lawyers care primarily about legal – not public – ramifications, and their default setting is usually to say nothing publicly. Yet these are the times that can demand not only a response, but regular dialogue with your ‘publics’. You can win a legal case but lose in the court of public opinion, which can be far more damaging.