Blaming media coverage for your public discomfort is a lot like complaining it is too sunny in Hawaii. If you don't like the sun, stay out of the sunlight.
The media's job is to dig up the truth. Your job is to tell your story as accurately and powerfully as possible. If you don't do your job, blame yourself, not the media.
GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain is the latest to pin his flagging political fortunes on negative media coverage. He called reporting of his alleged serial sexual harassment a distraction. His attorney openly suggested that the 13-year extramarital affair Cain carried on with a woman who stepped forward on her own with a stack of emails and receipts was a matter between two consenting adults, not the public.
Bashing the media or pontificating about what the public has a right to know are loser tactics in the world of protecting your reputation — your most valuable asset.
In Cain's case, he would have been better off to admit his previous sexual indiscretions and explain how he had mended his ways. This is what rival GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has done and, perhaps ironically, is the beneficiary of Cain's collapsed candidacy.
If Cain wanted to prove his innocence, he should have acknowledged the settlements with two former employees at the National Restaurant Association and provided a coherent, credible explanation. Instead, he said he didn't really remember one of the women, which if anything made the allegation even worse.
On the Ginger White affair, Cain, his attorney and his wife didn't appear to get the same memo, making Cain again seem less than honest and unqualified to take on the trust of the nation as president.
Cain is no worse than a lot of business executives who find themselves in the crosshairs of the news media. You cannot run and hide. You need to face the music — with some smart, intentional communications of your own.
Protecting your reputation, especially when it is under assault in a newspaper headline, the lead of the evening TV news or the butt of an SNL skit, demands as much or more attention as tending to financial reports and following legal advice.
Failure to respond intelligently with the long-term objective of preserving your reputation could send you sitting in a rocking chair in Georgia imagining what could have been.