Ten Things Not To Say To A Reporter
Read in 3 min. Good publicity is a fantastic way of bringing in business. When a reporter calls, it's important to remember that this is not just a flattering episode to relate to your fellow professionals, but an excellent business opportunity. What you say, and how you react is very important. Here's a checklist, gathered from my 25 years of working in and with the media, of the ten things you should definitely not say!
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A phrase which will make the reporter carefully note everything that you say, and reproduce it to your acute embarrassment.
"I don't think you'll be able to understand this, so I'll try to say it as simply as possible"
Never ever talk down to a reporter. OK, so some of them would struggle to answer the first question on Millionaire, but they know when they're being patronised.
"I've never heard of your magazine/radio show/TV programme"
More often than not, this will be true, but local reporters grow up to be national reporters and if you treat them well, you'll remain a handy contact in their little black book.
"We're the best in the business"
As soon as the reporter leaves, they'll check up on your rivals to see whether you're boasting.
"We've had fantastic press reviews in the States"
Journalists prefer to make their own minds up. Being told that they should copy their overseas colleagues is not a good idea.
"The person who deals with this is away for two weeks - can you call back then?"
You'll receive a very short answer to this one.
"You won't need a map - everyone knows where we are - just ask when you get off the train"
The reporter, of course, will never arrive - probably since they won't make the journey in the first place.
"This afternoon? Don't be ridiculous - we're not working to your deadlines"
The media is driven by tight deadlines. This is one of the best ways to guarantee no publicity (or worse, bad publicity).
A popular one this, which leads to one of two possible outcomes - "XYZ Co. declined to confirm or deny rumours that". Or "XYZ Co. refused point-blank to talk to us about". Neither of these is good news for you.
"I think I could let you have one of these free
Don't try to buy publicity with bribes. It could backfire seriously. If your product or service is good enough (and it is, isn't it?), you don't need to offer sweeteners.
Your thoughts matter - more than you can imagine.
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