The New York Times recently published an investigative article on the businesses dealings of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and his family. The 4,680-word piece reported that the leader’s relatives had become extraordinarily wealthy during his time in power, controlling assets worth at least $2.7 billion. While the article did not allege that Wen directly assisted family members with investments, it noted his significant economic role in overseeing government officials whose decisions affect the fortunes of the country’s businesses and investors.

When the article went live in China last Friday morning, access to both the English and Chinese versions of The New York Times website was swiftly blocked by the Chinese government. Despite the censorship efforts, many Chinese citizens were still able to view the story through private virtual networks and its coverage in Hong Kong news media.

After issuing a statement disputing several points in the article, the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabo is now threatening future legal action against The Times.

This rare instance of a sovereign government responding directly and aggressively in an attempt to counter unfavorable reporting is fascinating to witness. However, as communications professionals, it’s obvious that these tactics are not effective in contesting the information in the piece or countering its content with opposing key messages.

In our work at Red Banyan Group, we are often retained by companies who suddenly find themselves the focus of reporting and are unsure how to react. Thanks to our extensive experience in media relations, we are well-equipped to advise our clients on the best ways to proceed in various complex situations.

When the stakes are high, businesses, individuals, and even governments need to know how best to react. Red Banyan Group’s principals have advised companies in a variety of different industries, and even foreign governments, on exactly these types of issues.

Red Banyan Group is a top crisis PR firm, not just your average group of publicists.