12 Jul Taming the Media Beast: Tips for Working with Reporters
It’s natural to be a little bit afraid of the media. These are powerful people, doing a very big (and ever-changing) job.
However, many people are wary of reporters, and believe that somehow these word-wielding professionals are “out to get them” – like a beast in the wild.
The truth is, reporters are working hard to do their job, and they really are just looking for the opportunity to write good stories.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips below to help guide you safely through the media jungle:
1. “Off The Record” Does Not Exist
Simply put – if you say something to a reporter, it can be published.
There really is no such thing as “off the record,” despite what we see in movies and TV shows. And this is especially true if you spill very juicy information. With that said, the key to remember is to save your secrets for your spouse!
2. Reporters Are People, Too
Creating a personal connection with a reporter during an interview can go a long way.
It’s human nature – if they like you, the story is likely to come out better, and they are more likely to contact you for media opportunities in the future.
So feel free to chat with reporters and break the ice – even if your interview is about a particularly serious subject, asking them about something as neutral as the weather can go a long way!
3. Remember That They Are Doing YOU The Favor
A story about your company or an article in which you are cited as an expert source is really just free advertising – but better. Not only are you/your company featured in a publication, but you also get the third-party credibility that advertising cannot provide.
With that in mind, while interviews do inevitably take up your precious time, and you are indeed helping the reporter do their job, ultimately they are doing you the wonderful favor of giving you positive attention and generating awareness of you and your company.
Always remember that there are certainly many other individuals and companies they could talk to – so be nice and be grateful!
4. Don’t Expect To Review Your Quotes
Ninety percent of the time. Reporters are simply not going to let you review or approve the quotes they attribute to you in their story. Remember, this is not an ad – it is a news story, and they are certainly not obligated to get your approval on quotes after you agree to be interviewed.
Again, the key here is to remember to save your secrets for someone other than the media, and be nice – ultimately that will be reflected in the story.
5. Request Questions Ahead Of Time
If you are feeling unprepared for an interview, often reporters are happy to provide basic questions prior to an interview to help you prepare.
Most journalists devise questions for the interview anyway, so many are happy to send them to you. Reviewing these questions can certainly be a great way to prep for an interview and put yourself at ease.
Of course, do keep in mind that the reporter may not stick to only those questions during the interview. Also, if the story takes a turn in another direction, they can abandon the questions altogether. That said – know that an interview is not an interrogation. If a reporter asks something you can’t (or don’t want to) answer, you aren’t required to give an answer.
6. If You Want Something Printed, Say It!
Interviews are a very smart way to get your key company messaging, expertise and products in front of your target audiences. With that in mind, if a reporter isn’t asking any questions that allow you to address these points, take the interview in a direction where you can. To do this, you can politely suggest a question that you believe will further the story (and then answer your own question), or give examples of something your business has done to prove a point you are making.
By sharing more details about your company, you are likely to interest the reporter in avenues that he/she might not have considered before.
By using these tips above, you should be an expert at taming the media beast in no time.
In the end, it’s important to remember that reporters are professionals who are working hard to do their jobs well.