Spokesperson responses you can use: an occasional PR-Prof series

Spokespersons play an important role in communicating with news media. They distribute official statements and deliver answers to reporter queries. Sometimes they don’t talk, usually at the direction of their bosses or their bosses’ bosses.

As a public service to PR people, we will publish the better non-responses. Spokespersons should feel free to appropriate the words as needed; there’s no copyright on “no comment.”

The news story: Hackers infiltrate New York Times computer system and over three months install 45 pieces of custom malware. The Symantec antivirus software that the Times uses detects and quarantines the malware only once.

The response: “A Symantec spokesman said that, as a matter of policy, the company does not comment on its customers.” — New York Times, Jan. 30, 2013.

The news story: Yahoo cancels its work-at-home policy, in essence ordering all employees to work in offfices. The memo is quoted from and its author identified by name.

The response: A Yahoo spokeswoman, Sara Gorman, declined to comment, saying only that the company did not publicly discuss internal matters.  — New York Times, Feb. 25, 2013

The news story: Moody’s Investors Service privately settles a federal lawsuit brought by 14 plaintiffs. They had claimed the the rating company misled them by inflating credit ratings on money-losing investments.

The response: A Moody’s spokesman said: “This settlement allows us to put the significant legal defense and related costs, as well as the distraction, of these very protracted litigations behind us. We are satisfied that it is in the best interests of our company and shareholders.” — Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2013

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