Folks, nobody likes negative press coverage, I get that. But you can’t live in a country that allows for free press and routinely call the press when you want positive stories and then kick out reporters on days when there is a negative story floating around. This is essentially what the management of the Mall of America did recently.
Take a look below at reporting from Mediaite.com
A St. Paul Pioneer Press police reporter tweeted on Sunday:
Came *this* close to getting kicked out of the Mall of America. Why? Apparently reporters don’t have the same rights as everyone else. 1/2
— Kristi Belcamino (@KristiBelcamino) February 23, 2015
I asked Kristi Belcamino to tell us more, and she replied:
My editor asked me to go to the mall and see what it was like after the warnings from Homeland Security after the al-Shabaab video was released.
Along with interviewing mall visitors, we wanted to talk to someone in the security office or the mall spokesperson. We were having a hard time getting in touch with anyone at the mall by phone so my first stop was at an information desk near an entrance.
I asked the woman where the security office was. She said she would call security and someone would come down and talk to me right there. She called and told them a reporter from the Pioneer Press was interested in talking to them. She frowned at what they were saying and hung up the phone.
“They said you aren’t supposed to be here today. They are sending someone down here to escort you out.”
I told her I wasn’t waiting around to get kicked out and took off toward the center of the mall, taking off my jacket and scarf in case she described me. I spent the next hour talking to people for my story without any problems and headed back to the newsroom.
Again, you can’t open your doors and welcome the public in, but then kick out reporters because you think they are going to do a negative story. You will only make matters worse. You have to let reporters in and you should be willing to be interviewed on record as well. You might not love the story, but in the long run, this is the only way the news business, the public relations business and marketing can work.
TJ Walker helps executives and companies prepare for unpleasant interviews. You can call him at Media Training Worldwide 212.764.4955.