How to write a response

Often in the business world, a magazine, trade journal or newspaper will print an editorial with which your company will disagree for any number of reasons. Or, it could be a news story that management feels doesn’t accurately represent your company or its products. Your company may decide that it needs to respond with a letter to the publication’s editor, or even an op-ed, to present your side of the story.

A well-crafted response can help to prevent further damage to your brand and protect your customer base. Likewise, a poorly-written response can erode your customer base, damage your brand and position your company as “whining.” Here are some steps you can take to make certain your response is a winning one.


  1.  To respond or not respond? Sometimes, the best response is no response. If an opinion piece or story is so over-the-top that a rational reader won’t give it any credence, then the “ignore and it will go away” approach may be best. There’s no need to give a lousy article any more attention that it deserves by dignifying it with a response.
  2. What’s the response? If your company does decide to respond—and depending on the size of the company, this decision may be made at any of several levels—what will the response be? Analyze the offending work and determine the most egregious errors. If you choose a letter to the editor as a response, your word count will likely be quite limited. You’ll need to address only the key faults. With an op-ed, you’ll have more room to expand on your points and address lesser points as well.
  3. Be factual. Point out what’s incorrect about the offending piece. The goal is to set the record straight.
  4. Don’t make it personal. Remember, lowering yourself to name-calling and excessive sarcasm doesn’t help your cause, and may result in the letter or op-ed being rejected outright by the publication’s editors.
  5. Let it sit. Whoever is assigned to craft the response within the organization should do so, and then let it sit for a day. He or she should then go back to the work, review it for errors #3 and 4 above, and then get final approval of the response from the necessary manager. This might be the marketing director, the corporate communications director, the CEO or someone else, depending on the size of the company and your corporate structure.

By carefully drafting up a smart response, your company can turn bad press into a home run. And you don’t have to do it alone—Trade Press Services is expert at crafting all kinds of communications for your company. Call us at (805) 496-8850 or e-mail today.

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