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How to Counter the "Opinion Cycle"

The news cycle is dead. Long live "The Opinion Cycle."

So says Lee Ann Schreiber, ombudsman for ESPN. In a terrific piece on, Schreiber dissects various sports "controversies" and concludes that a) very little actual reporting was done but b) tons of opinions were spewed.

This piece was about sports, but the exact same point could be made about many other facets of public life, including politics, entertainment and business. The formula is simple: take one piece of information, give your opinion, wait for others to add their opinions, add your opinion about their opinion, and so on. CNN, CNBC and Fox News (and ESPN) make a living at this, don't they?

What if you're caught in an "opinion cycle"? Say your company had some bad news -- a layoff or plant closure -- and now the "experts" are offering their opinions on what it means. What can you do?

  • Counter opinion with other opinions: Push interviews with supporters whose opinions support your position.
  • Change the story by injecting major new facts and information. There's no use having an opinion about an old set of circumstances.
  • Circulate fact sheets, post web sites, blogs and podcasts supporting your point of view.
  • Bring in a crisis communications expert and hold an all-hands meeting with your key executives and communications people to brief everyone on the problem, answer their questions, address their fears and reassure them
Jon Greer

Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.

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