News reporters don’t normally give sources the right to editorial consent. It’s very possible that a simple misquote or incorrect fact in a news story can end up looking very bad for the star of the story for a long time. You’ll go a long way toward building a reliable working relationship with the local media if you follow some basic rules for talking to reporters.
- Be prepared. And prepare some more. Think about what you’ll be talking about, and write down a few key phrases to keep your message on point and prevent too much talking “off the cuff.”
- “Off the record” is the phrase that sometimes pays. Honest reporters know that once this phrase is invoked, the pen should be capped and the words that follow, considered anonymous and non-reportable. OTR statements should be rare, as more and more reporters are revealing that the conversation was off the record, then reporting anonymously attributed facts. It’s not a big stretch from there to connect you to your comments that were not for publication.
- Don’t trust that you were understood: verify. You will not be able to edit the final story, but you can ask the reporter what angle they’re planning to take and how your quotes might read. Getting feedback in this manner will help you spot misunderstandings and incorrect facts before the story is written, so you can help the reporter create a more accurate article.
- Be available. Reply to messages and e-mails quickly. You’re more apt to have significant editorial input, and more chances to clarify your responses and check the reporter’s understanding.
- Know your stuff. Reporters really want stories that write themselves, great quotes from knowledgeable sources, and a little controversy whenever possible to spice things up. Help reporters find great stories and offer quotes that help them write those stories, but stay away from comments about other businesses or people.
Make a Friend, But Be Realistic
Reporters are people, too, and they don’t want to talk to people who have already labeled them unethical and untrustworthy. You will have to relax a little and treat reporters like people in order to build a good working relationship with the media. Celebrate your collaboration with the press by putting your top-tier coverage under glass. Custom article framing preserves your great news coverage in an artistic way that’s sure to keep gaining you positive attention for years to come.
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