Trylon Communications  - February 2006

Selective Clipping

Just about every company gets excited when it is mentioned positively in the media. Executives are quick to make copies and circulate them. But what do you do if the story contains both good and bad news? Should you edit and repurpose the clipping to show only the good points? That is definitely not an ethical approach.

Take for example a recent New York Times article about New York Gubernatorial Candidate William Weld’s aides posting news articles on his website. By excising negative references in the articles, the aides effectively tampered with the integrity of the original copyrighted pieces and brought the candidate additional negative publicity. The postings were later updated with the word “excerpt” added to notify readers that there was more to the stories.

So how can an executive circulate an article about their company that has unpromotable references? This is a tough call. The choices are to post the entire story, post an excerpt with a link to the whole article, or simply refuse to call attention to the story.

Today’s digital age makes it easier for companies to try to sanitize and spin media stories, but they must be aware of potentially serious consequences. Besides obvious copyright infringements and ethical considerations, the negative press that can result from such activities clearly outweighs any potential gains.