Journalism is a challenging profession that requires talent and tenacity.
In your interactions with journalists, avoid these questions or comments:
1. “Please publish my press release.”
News stories aren’t just about what your brand is doing, and they can’t come from single sources. Don’t presume that a reporter would copy-and-paste a press release whole.
2. “Write about my company, and I’ll promote your article for free.”
Journalists aren’t interested in your business. They are not looking to promote your company or provide you with free advertising in their publications.
3. “May I publish your story on my company’s blog?”
The content a journalist writes is intended for the publication he or she has been hired to work for. Don’t expect permission to publish one’s work on your blog. You can usually blog about the story, but in a curated fasion, using proper attribution and a link back to the article.
4. “You’re going to include my photos with the article, right?”
Depending on where the story is published, there may not be space for accompanying photos. If a journalist wants to include photos, they’ll either ask for them or bring a photographer.
5. “Come on, make a quick mention of my newest product.”
Insisting that the journalist plug your new grand opening is unprofessional and likely has nothing to do with why they’re interviewing you. When Margarita Hakobyan, CEO of MoversCorp, was interviewed recently for Entrepreneur magazine, she had recently opened a number of locations in the US. However, the article was about a very specific marketing topic. Not a whisper about her new store openings came out in the article.
6. “Your work is easy. You just have to write down what I say.”
Hours of research and multiple interviews go in to a good news story. Digging into a topic and getting to the heart of a story may take days or weeks of hard-fought effort.
7. “Make me sound smarter.”
Quotes are verbatim snippets that come directly from the person being interviewed. Ethically, a reporter shouldn’t change them to make you sound more knowledgeable on the subject.
8. “I want to approve everything you publish.”
While you may control what information you give the journalist, you have no authority over what they publish.
9. “Can you give my company a good endorsement?”
Journalists focus on their stories and what their editors want. While you may supply them with expert knowledge and quotes, you shouldn’t expect an ode to your company.
10. “That was off-the-record.”
Whether a conversation is on-the-record or off is a discussion that should come before the interview, not after.
11. “Bring a recorder so you don’t forget what I say.”
Journalists prepare extensively for their interviews and work on tight deadlines. If the reporter you’re working with needs a recorder, he or she will bring one. Some don’t.
12. “You aren’t going to interview my competitors, are you?”
Again, single-source stories are a no-no for reporters. If the reporter you’re working with is covering your industry as a whole, it’s more than reasonable that he or she may speak to one or more other companies within that sphere.
13. “Just use the article so-and-so wrote on us and change it a little.”
Joke or not, encouraging a journalist to plagiarize will usually rub him or her the wrong way.
14. “No comment, but we’re really excited about it.”
If you say “no comment,” mean it and move on to the next topic. If you tell a journalist “no comment” and go on to explain your position, he or she will take what you say as a comment.
15. “Journalism is a dying business, you know.”
While the medium of journalism is changing, there will always be a demand for the watchdog services the press provides.