Thought Leadership

Silence Speaks Volumes: Surge in Nonresponses Signals Shift in Media Relations

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The phrase “did not respond to a request for comment” is appearing more often in news articles, Columbia Journalism Review reports.

“I find it strange, to be honest,” says Oliver Darcy, who writes’s daily newsletter about the news and entertainment industries. “It’s the job of spokespeople to tell the best story about the companies they represent.”

As Paul Farhi writes for CJR, a recent Nexis database search of news stories that included the phrase “did not respond to a request for comment” returned 3,616 mentions — a fivefold increase in 10 years. The trend has coincided with the rise of social media, which lets news sources bypass journalists and publish their messages.

The subject of a story will “gain nothing by ghosting a reporter,” Daily Beast writer Justin Baragona says.

One communications adviser who spoke anonymously said that responding to press inquiries is no longer worthwhile, especially during a crisis. An organization is better off issuing a statement, buying ads, or posting on social media because owned media allows an organization to control its message, the adviser said

The rise of nonresponses to journalists’ inquiries also parallels an increasing hostility toward the press, exemplified by companies like Elon Musk’s X, which sends a particular emoji in response to queries.

Meanwhile, some communicators argue that earned media still holds greater credibility and can reach larger audiences, presenting a compelling counterpoint.

“Not replying is cutting off your nose to spite your face,” said veteran corporate spokesperson Larry Parnell, now a professor of strategic public relations at George Washington University and a veteran corporate spokesperson. Not doing so “looks like confirmation that the story is correct and that the [subject of the story] just doesn’t want to talk about it.”

PRSA CEO Linda Thomas Brooks tells CJR that it’s “shortsighted” to think not responding will do much good.

“We always advocate that our members be responsive” to reporters. “Working together is really important.”

You can read the full article at this link.

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