Six Ways to Blow It With a Journalist
by Marcia Simon, APR –
If you want to have a good relationship with the media so journalists respond to your emails, and consider you a trusted and reliable source, NEVER DO THESE THINGS:
- Never fill your pitch with industry gobbledygook. A tech reporter shared this pet peeve – “Just because I cover a tech beat, doesn’t mean I want to be bombarded with specs.” Where’s the “people” angle? By the same token, many doctors throw around clinical terminology that people don’t understand. No matter who the audience, communicate with a message that’s easy to grasp. As Einstein supposedly said, “ If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Do the homework, and talk about it person to person.
- When a journalist asks for information or a photo, never send him or her to a website to fetch it. Make it easy – deliver the most appropriate information. By all means, include the link to access more information, but don’t take the lazy way out. This also assures that you are controlling the message.
- If a writer is doing a feature article, let them break the story. Never get so excited about it that you run your mouth on social channels until after the reporter posts it. Then, share away, and thank the reporter by name.
- If a writer is interviewing a company spokesperson and you attend the interview, NEVER jump in to ask questions you want the reporter to ask, and never answer for the interviewee. This is why PR people provide media training and coaching prior to an interview. Give your spokesperson a bullet list of key points he or she can glance at and use as a reminder. And give the journalist a list of possible questions in advance, which is often appreciated. By all means, jot down notes during the chat and provide additional information to the journalist after the interview is wrapped up or in a follow-up email.
- NEVER stretch the truth. Always answer questions and don’t dodge questions. If you don’t know the answer, explain that you will get more information and get back to the journalist. Then, follow through promptly.
- If a writer does a great story, give that media outlet a break. NEVER pitch another story immediately to the journalist unless it’s for another client or another media outlet. Show an understanding that a journalist won’t get bombarded by your enthusiasm unless the circumstances are extraordinary.