No Photos, Please

Consider the downside of a photo in a news story.

Getting a company name or a cause in the news isn’t the goal. Indeed, having targeted audiences take action because they read about you is the name of the game.

The law firm Katz Melinger filed a sexual harassment case; the defendants included a top-rated cable television show, its production company and the network on which the show aired.

A summary press release was distributed, with a link to a pdf of the case filed in court. As expected, the celebrity news website TMZ jumped on the case and quoted some salacious details, prompting the show’s fans to post comments that degraded the client’s character.

In preparing their coverage of the case, two local newspapers contacted the law firm seeking photographs of the client. How would these requests be handled?

After writing about the photo that attracted 3,000 visitors, it might be surprising that my counsel was to not provide photos. Once the client’s image became accessible online, it could be manipulated in ways that could be personally demeaning and not helpful to the case. No photos were sent to the newspapers and the stories were published without them.

Simultaneously, Broadcasting & Cable reported the case objectively. Perhaps this article was more damaging, from the defendants’ perspective, than the gossip-style news stories. Advertisers are often skittish about adverse publicity that might affect them also, and networks assiduously keep their advertisers happy.

As a result of the media coverage, an attorney for a defendant contacted the law firm the same afternoon. That one phone call was the goal of the media outreach — and it was achieved without a photo.

Are you focused on the end game of driving target audiences to your phone or website, rather than media coverage for its own sake? Let’s address the upside and downside of sharing your story and photos — consistent with your business strategy.

Contact me at 212-677-5770 or janet@janetlfalk.com.

PS As for The New York Daily News and The New York Post, they easily located other photos and images to round out their articles.