Points to consider when formulating a media release

When you draft a media release, key legal issues include:

  • should you apologise? Take care here: doing so could be interpreted as an admission of liability; an expression of regret may be a better option. However, local law may prevent apologies being construed in this way (eg the UK’s Compensation Act 2005 provides that an apology, offer of treatment or other redress shall not in itself amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty)
  • limit what you say to what you know. Do not speculate on causes or discuss who may be at fault unless there is a real need and you are sure of the facts (consider the legal and reputational risks of doing so)
  • are there any categories of  information that should not be provided to the public or to any other specific recipients (eg confidential or legally privileged information) or which would prejudice the position of others and create tensions in any response to the incident? If so, make sure that the incident management and comms teams understand this
  • allow time for a legal review of any proposed public communications; effective crisis management demands close collaboration between PR/comms and legal functions
  • check whether there are any standard formats/content requirements for media releases (eg product recall notices tend to follow a specific format)
  • the impact on the content of a media release of any policy statements that have been made should be considered