10 Commandments FinalBy Shelby Tidwell The evolution of global news media has affected news outlets everywhere, including the Associated Press (AP) – the largest and most respected news organization in the world – which has altered its corporate communications department to contend with ever-changing media standards.

Ellen Hale, former senior vice president and director of corporate communications at AP, recently spoke to PRSA Dallas and Press Club of Dallas members about her time at AP and offered “The 10 Commandments of Corporate Communications.”

  1. Corporate communications should be the canary in the coal mine. You should be the first to indicate if a situation could be misinterpreted by the media.
  2. If it looks like the issue has wings, get in there fast and disrupt it before it gains traction with the media or public.
  3. Don’t count on anyone calling for comment or clarification; assume they will run with their own interpretation of the story or image.
  4. Be proactively transparent.
  5. If you’re wrong, fall on your sword – fall on it fast and completely.
  6. Explain, explain, explain!
  7. Know when to stop explaining. Get in, get out and don’t extend the issue any longer than you have to.
  8. If you don’t have shareable content, you’re sunk.
  9. Social media can be a curse, but it has proven to be a friendly beast – take advantage of it!
  10. Cultivate relationships with those in the media who can help.

If there’s a trend in Ellen’s list, it’s that honesty and transparency are not optional. The bigger and more powerful your organization is, the more likely you are to be under scrutiny. Don’t give your critics the chance to misinterpret your message – but if they do, be the one to correct it.

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