- Set the level of attribution before an interview.
- Everything you say is "on the record," unless you make
another arrangement with a reporter.
- Don't say anything you don't want to see in print.
- You can give comments on background or on a
"not-for-attribution" basis in special circumstances. This
means the reporter can use the information but not attribute it to you.
- Use "off the record" sparingly. It appears as if you are
hiding something, and a good reporter can usually find out what it is.
Dont Feel Pressured to Answer Immediately. If
you don't have an immediate answer to a question, say "I will get back to you with an
answer." Hold off on a response if your additional research can provide a more
complete answer. By being 100 percent accurate, you will enhance your reputation as a
Be Helpful Even if You May Not Benefit. Don't treat
media requests as frivolous. The goal is to build long-term relationships with news
organizations. Cooperation now means that you will probably be used as an industry
Help reporters meet deadlines. Don't make reporters
wait on deadline because you neglect to return calls. If you commit yourself to provide
information, follow through quickly. If you are unable to obtain the data, get back to the
reporter rapidly to inform him or her.
Try Not to Avoid Questions. Failing to answer a
question may give an impression that you are hiding something. If a question is sensitive,
give a brief answer and move along. Be alert to major issues affecting your company and
find out the standard company response before talking to media. Learn to "bridge
over" to a positive statement after responding.
Be accurate. If you discover information
relayed to a reporter is outdated, call back the reporter with correct facts. He or she
will appreciate your concern for accuracy.
Be Patient. Don't let it appear as if your
time is too valuable to waste on media. If you are busy when a reporter phones, offer to
return the call that same day at a more convenient time. Then do it.
Don't Hold Grudges. If a reporter has written a
negative story about your company, then calls on another story, don't hold back. Your
objective is to achieve a professional relationship with the media. Don't let a reporter's
previous actions stop you from building the relationship.
Comment on general industry trends. Don't
insist on a guarantee that your company will be included in a story. Journalists
appreciate the assistance of corporate executives with knowledge of a subject. Most
likely, your company will receive recognition in an article. Even if it doesn't, you and
your company benefit when you are quoted as a knowledgeable industry leader.