With the great media presence of today, you’d think we’d all have a decent idea as to how to interact with journalists and similar representatives of the news and entertainment world.
Considering the sheer number of media available that give us exposure to news and the many happenings in pop culture, it’s rather shocking to discover how many people have no idea how to interact with journalists. It seems to be an unexplainable phenomenon when the seemingly most intelligent of people make some of the most moronic statements when face to face with a reporter.
There are simply some things you absolutely NEVER want to say to a journalist, regardless of the actual medium they work in, whether it’s the Internet, television, radio, or print, if you want to make a good impression and receive positive feedback from your coverage. Because literally any type of business can experience an incredible increase in exposure as well as revenue from one single, solitary piece of “news,” it’s imperative to understand what NOT to say when it comes to communicating with a journalist.
Read on for some of the most common mistakes made by those speaking with journalists, reporters, and other members of the media.
1) “This is strictly off the record.” – If you’re connected to a newsworthy story but aren’t willing to have your name associated with the event in question, then any respectable journalist will either:
– use the information you’ve provided but attribute the details to an anonymous source, or
– keep searching for someone else who is willing to have their name used in print while agreeing to be quoted.
2) “No comment at this time.” – This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make dealing with the media when you are the one who initiated the contact. If you’re unwilling to talk, why bother them in the first place?
Now if you’ve found that you’re the unfortunate subject of unwelcome attention from the media, the “no comment” approach will burn you. Think about it, when you here the words, you automatically think someone is hiding something. In a future post, I’ll share some alternatives to this big no-no.
3) “Will I be able to read the piece before it’s released to the public?” – There are two reasons that asking this question will be a huge mistake. First, it conveys that you’re being arrogant, which doesn’t set too well with most journalists as they are there to get a job done and your approval is of no consequence to them. And secondly, asking this question makes it seem like you’re trying to tell them how to do their job, which is sure to cause resentment and negativity.
4) “I’m just amazed at all the press coverage I’m receiving!” – There is no journalist in the world who wants to hear that they’re one of many who are already covering a story. There’s always the chance they’ll move on to a hotter scoop, leaving you without any coverage at all. And while it’s perfectly acceptable to showcase your press releases and clips on your website or at the office, you don’t ever want to come across as conceited when dealing with journalists.
5) “You didn’t write that last thing down, did you?” – Unless you’re trying your hand at some reverse psychology and hoping it works, saying this statement will practically guarantee that whatever you’re trying to keep out of the story will find it’s way in. And, if you’re worried you’ve let something slip that you would have preferred to keep under wraps, then simply let it go without drawing any attention to it.
While these five statements or questions are without a doubt the most important to keep in mind, there are, of course, plenty of others to remember when it comes to talking with journalists.
The main purpose of an honorable journalist’s work is to get the facts and report the truth. Respond in kind and convey that you’re cooperating with them, doing your best to make their job as easy as possible, since you would definitely want the same courtesy, and you’re highly likely to be rewarded with positive exposure.
But, make one or more of the above mistakes and you just may find yourself the center of a less than flattering piece, or even worse, complete omission from the news media.