In public relations, and especially crisis communications, many organizations decline to comment or will not return an editor’s phone calls. This will appear in broadcast and in print as a side note (The company declined to comment…The company could not be reached for comment).
Businesses sometimes view it as a potential legal threat and/or a situation that could damage their reputation. In addition, businesses do not comment because they think the story will pass by quicker if there is less drama to the story — two sides with conflicting viewpoints having it out in the media.
These are the correct approaches to take, sometimes. Not always.
The media, analysts and organizations with opposing viewpoints, don’t support the business financially — consumers do. When consumers see organizations that they support, especially the fanatics and ones that urge others to support their beliefs, they are turned off. They want their causes to show they care, because they’ve invested in the company’s stance and beliefs.
The Big Deal: If a company doesn’t want to, or can’t, respond at the moment, it’s better to say something to the effect of, "We’re sorting out details and getting the facts as straight as possible. We’ll comment once we know more about the situation."
This type of response allows for the follow-up story — a chance to explain the actions and shows the public what you stand for. The same journalists and editors that inquired initially will feel that you deserve the same attention that was given to the opposing side.