Today’s news in Australia about an activist who issued a spurious media release that resulted in millions of dollars being wiped off the market value of Australian mining company Whitehaven Coal (see Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald) begs the obvious question for companies and their public relations advisers: how much control actually needs to be exercised when making company statements?
I have in the past offered 6 tenets for effective publications (read that blog post here). One states, Communications move too quickly to control: work out how to let go.
Control is clearly needed. An organization that has a process that is well understood by everyone will know almost at once whether a market statement is genuine or not. It appears that this was the case in today’s example.
If activists become more widespread, then control may have to tighten. But today’s market still moves too quickly for old-style command-and-control strictures to be the automatic norm.
Public relations professionals may well be faced with a dilemma here: control versus freedom. The tenet still applies, but the degree of control may have changed.