5 things NOT to say to a journalist

As you can imagine, in the public relations world, we are continually interacting with and building relationships with journalists.

During my 25-plus years of media relations and crisis/issues management experience and into today, there’s one thing that’s remained consistent: the same media missteps continue to rear their ugly heads.

What can you do to avoid the “media spokesperson uglies?” Take note and bypass the following in your next interview.

1. “No comment.” Never say “no comment.” Even if you don’t have anything you can share, explain why you’re not able to share much now.  For example: “Because there is an ongoing investigation, I’d recommend working directly with the police to get the most accurate information.”

2. Don’t repeat negative words or statements. As tempting as it may be, avoid repeating anything negative, even to refute. Unfortunately, those are just quotes waiting to happen.

3.  Providing personal opinions. Resist providing personal opinions, no matter how tame they may seem. Remember, you’re representing a brand.

4. “Can we keep this off the record?” Unfortunately, it’s not always a real thing. Though some journalists may respect your wish, plan as if anything you share can be published. And, providing information “just for background?” Nope – it doesn’t exist either.

5. Jargon. Avoid jargon or technical words. It’s confusing, and let’s be honest, even we get tired of hearing our own industry-speak.

Changing the way you work with reporters may be new to you or your company, but it’s worth it. Understanding the rules for the road in working with media can make a big difference for the reputation you and your business has with reporters as well as their readers, viewers or listeners.

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