When Media is Calling: 5 Things NOT To Say To A Reporter

PR firms in Raleigh, NC are constantly working to build relationships with journalists. Whether it’s to navigate through a PR crisis that threatens to damage a brand’s reputation or strengthen a brand’s thought leadership, here are five statements to avoid.

  1. “No comment.” At some point, a reporter will ask a question you’d rather not answer. In most cases, saying “No comment” can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt, or it would appear as if you are trying to hide something. Even if you don’t have anything to share, explain why you’re unable to do so. You can say “We’re still gathering facts and will have a statement after we have more details,” or “Because there is an ongoing investigation, I’d recommend working directly with the police to get the most accurate information.”
  2. Personal opinions. Keep in mind that you are still representing the organization; keep your personal opinions to yourself, no matter how safe they may seem.
  3. Asking if certain statements can be kept off the record. As PR firms in Raleigh, NC have realized, there is no such thing as being off the record. To some reporters, “off the record” might mean the information can be used in such a way that it’s okay to identify the organization but not the source. Some reporters might splice the information and use it in several subsequent stories. In all of these cases, you have relinquished control over how or when the information will be used. Always plan as if anything you share can be published.
  4. Jargon. Avoid using technical, industry-specific words. It’s confusing, trite, and it sounds like the statement has been lifted off a website.
  5. Avoid negative words or statements. It’s never a good idea to respond negatively to a crisis situation; these are quotes waiting to go viral. Keep in mind that the news cycle is short and any crisis will almost certainly blow over. People will always remember if you handled the situation with poise and care.

If you’re a business owner, investing in media relations training could be among the least of your priorities, but it is a smart move. These training sessions go beyond media interviews and teach participants how to conduct presentations and interact with customers, potential clients, and board members, among other stakeholders.

Media relations training can also lay the groundwork for your business’s crisis response strategy; team members learn how to engage with reporters BEFORE it gets to an interview stage. It also challenges staff to simulate crisis scenarios or hardball questions and how to respond. Moreover, you are empowering more employees to become brand ambassadors. Who knows, this could lead to the discovery of amazing storytellers who’ll take brand engagement to a whole new level.

Recognized as one of the leading PR firms in Raleigh NC, McKeeman Communications is an independent PR agency working with companies that are experiencing rapid growth or change. They help localize and share messaging that builds awareness and trust for their brands. Visit their website to learn more.

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