The Do's and Don't of Media Relations

DO

  • Media have their story objective. If your company doesn’t fit, say so.
  • Speed counts. The first company to respond to a reporter’s query usually gets in the story.
  • Remember that the purpose of being interviewed is not to answer questions, but to communicate your company’s position on an issue.
  • Professionally train your spokesperson to handle the media – it’s an expense well worth the cost.
  • Focus on three message points, and say each three times during the course of an interview.
  • State the most important fact at the beginning.
  • Write out your dream headline and use those words during the interview.
  • Talk from the viewpoint of the public’s interest and benefit, not the organization’s.
  • Speak slowly enough for a reporter to take notes. Repeat key stats or facts.
  • Use the company’s name often when the news is good.
  • If you don’t know an answer say so.
  • If asked a direct (yes/no) question, give a direct answer.
  • Tell the truth, even if it hurts.
  • Be prepared for the worst possible questions.
  • Speak squarely. Don’t obfuscate the facts.
  • Give reporters and producers great service. They’ll come back for future stories.
  • Provide a press release or background statistics document with your key points. This helps ensure facts will be correctly reported.
  • Make the press release easy to read and use, and refrain from using jargon.
  • Provide quality quotes that add to the story.
  • If you offer to provide more information, do so within the reporter’s timetable.
  • Allow your P.R. Counselor or Agency to be the primary contact with the media. This will protect you from being put on the spot, and allows your counselor to work with a reporter to the company’s and publics’ benefit, while meeting the reporter’s deadline.

DON'T

  • Don’t call a press conference unless you have what reporters consider news.
  • Don’t be intimidated. If you’ve got a story, reporters what to hear it.
  • If you don’t want a statement quoted, don’t make it.
  • Don’t repeat a negative (especially when answering a negative question).
  • Don’t answer a question if you aren’t prepared. Say you will get back to the reporter by a specific time, and do so.
  • Don’t argue with a reporter or lose your cool (let your P.R. Counselor or Agency handle the upset.)
  • Limit how and when you use the company’s name when the news is bad, instead say “the company” or “we.”


© Caugherty Hahn Communications,Inc. 2007

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