Media Relations for a Connected World
Five Things to Never Say in a Press Interview
Five Things to Never say in a Press Interview
By Mark Shapiro
One of the most important components of effective media public relations is briefing the press. Whether it is for the purpose of announcing the launch of new company, the rollout of a new product or a service, or to provide the press with insight or guidance regarding industry and technology trends, you and your team need to remember five things to never say to the editor or reporter
No. 1: “Sorry, we have to reschedule. Our spokesperson/CEO/product manager, got called away to another call.”
This can be especially damaging if this message is delivered at the last minute -- because the editor is sitting on the phone waiting for the briefing to start. Yes, stuff does happen, but your company’s representative needs to understand the significance of talking to the press and respect their time. Yes, if your spokesperson is the CEO of a BIG company, like Apple or Intel, you may be able to get away with this a couple of times, but for most of us, disrespecting an editor is often the kiss of death for a budding editorial relationship.
If a conflict does arrive, the quicker you can get to the editor and express your regrets and re-schedule, the better it will be for future discussions.
By keeping these guidelines in mind, your efforts to get your news out will be more effective. Then, implement these key takeaways:
- Be prepared. Know what the product or discussion is all about. If a busy CEO or executive is the "official" spokesperson for the company, at least have a qualified and knowledgeable person sitting next to him or her during the briefing.
- Respect the editor/reporters and their time. They are knowledgeable professionals doing their job. They respect you. You need to respect them. Over my 20 plus years of setting up and hosting press briefings, I have found that most execs understand that one needs to treat everyone professionally. However, there have been a few who have no concept -- who think that their job, their position, allows them to trample over everyone, their staff, their consultants, and their press relations. They are too busy, too important, to worry about how they come across to the press.
- Have news and be prepared. Once again this comes down to respect and understanding that not only does the editor have a job to do, but that he or she can be an integral component to the success of the company and its offerings. Positive press coverage is built upon ongoing positive press relationships. Screw up once, they may forgive you. Screw up twice, and its adios!