Hospitality Business Magazine

Hospitality businesses risk reputation loss as media needs change

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Hospitality businesses are at risk of suffering reputational damage purely because of confusion around the changing needs of the news media, according to the author of a new book.

The need for businesses in the hospitality industry to understand these new requirements, plus others that have been around for decades, are the focus of the book: “Media Training for Modern Leaders.”

Christchurch author Pete Burdon says the need to respond to news media requests within minutes in high stakes situations is often not understood. “In the old days, people either got their news from tonight’s TV news or tomorrow’s newspaper, so there was no urgency for reporter to get their stories completed,” he says.

“Now, stories are often on websites and social media channels within minutes. If it’s a serious issue and you don’t get back to the reporter in time, the comment will merely say something like ‘Ms Blogs refused to comment, which implies some sort of guilt.”

Burdon, a former reporter and government press secretary, says this also means that hospitality businesses should have tailored media statements ready to send out on serious issues before they are needed. “This is the only way of getting yourself into the story, even if it’s just saying you are aware of the situation and are doing everything to resolve it. If you don’t comment quickly in these scenarios, you look incompetent or uncaring,” Burdon says. “Many businesses have been hit by this over recent years and more are likely to be hit if they don’t take action to protect their reputations from media scrutiny.”

Burdon says the amount of time media spokespeople have to make their points has also been cut as sound bite lengths have fallen consistently. He says the average length is about seven seconds. “If you don’t cut what you want to say to its absolute core and make it interesting to the reporter, you’ve got a high chance of being quoted out of context, or misquoted when the reporter tries to paraphrase. It’s important to know that if this happens, you are usually responsible, not the reporter,” he says.

These points, plus other issues that require new skills are all covered in “Media Training for Modern Leaders.” The book and it’s accompanying on and offline training options can be found at