I’ve said some dumb things in my life and sometimes even to the media, so with some trepidation about saying things I might regret, I was chatting with Sholto Macpherson Editor of CRN Magazine at ExpoTech in Canberra. A day or so later I asked him for some advice about the media, I posed some questions and he graciously agreed to let me blog it. Here is the whole transcript of the media relations topic…
Good to talk with you on Wednesday, this can either be an idea for you to write or also happy to do it through my blog, but I think folk don’t really know how to deal with the media, at least I don’t. So how do we get the basics out there?
My questions would be…
· How do I control what gets printed?
The short answer is, you can’t. It’s the difference between PR, whom you pay to put out a message that you have control over, and the media, which reports the facts as accurately as it can. At least that’s the theory. People talk to the media for a variety of reasons, but the reason why companies spend so much effort on launches, events, etc with the media is because audiences take more notice of what a journalist says than they do a paid-for ad. There are many other reasons which I’ll go into in an article.
· Can I control what is and what is not on the record?
If the interviewee asks the journalist to keep his/her comments off the record, and the journalist agrees, then the journalist should honour that promise. Of course, like in any business, there are unscrupulous journalists, but generally you can feel certain that if you want to make a private comment it’s not going to appear as headline in the next issue.
· Should I consider everything will be printed?
That’s a very good assumption and a useful guide to thinking about what to say, even though it will almost never occur. It’s like how the internet is one big magazine – only put online what you are happy for your mother to read.
· Can I request to see an article before it is printed?
You can ask, but a journo won’t show. If every interviewee was able to see the article beforehand, inevitably they would want to make changes, and then the difference between journalism and public relations disappears. The media’s promise to its audience is to give an independent assessment of the topic or person in question. However, in some cases you can ask to see your quotes, which are the parts of the interview the journalist intends to use. These can only be checked for accuracy; it is not an opportunity to censor your own comments.
· What tips would you give to deal with the media?
Well that is all we discussed so far as this was really a quick brain dump and of course I’d like to see an article about media in depth. Other questions I asked included…
Additionally publicity avenues · How do we get press releases picked up?
· What is of interest to you and not just self promoting drivel?
· What style format etc is a good thing? Or don’t you care because you will edit the copy?
and of course I look forward to reading those answers in CRN in the fullness of time, it has made me think more about leveraging one of my Clients who just happens to be a Small PR Firm, so maybe I have a little bartering to do with Anita soon.
One last thing in a follow up email Sholto asked me what my answers might be since “– as a blog writer, you are in the media too! “
Well I don’t really think of my self like that, I’m really just a Techo with a big mouth, big opinions, and a tendency to use a reference to the Tism song “5 Yards” directed at my self when I behave badly.
Here are the basic rules for me: all answers to my original questions…
- I post to the blog you print it ;-D OK really I’ll often ask if I say “fred nerk said “ If you don’t like a post let me know I’ll replace it with *** David had a 5 Yards Moment *** (not happened yet)
- Everything is NDA unless I got it elsewhere first. Again If you don’t like a post let me know I’ll replace it with *** David had a 5 Yards Moment ***
- Even if I’m wearing a shirt / button that says “I’m Blogging this” probably not I tend to remember the things that stick in my mind, and chances are you will have said crap can we keep this between us by then. BTW it is more likely that I’m in a “nobody reads my blog” TEE-Shirt if truth be known, my only loyal reader is the Google search spider.
- Nope but since you set your RSS reader to update Mackie.is-a-geek.net every 5 Minutes you could be the one and only hit If you don’t like a post let me know I’ll replace it with *** David had a 5 Yards Moment ***
- Again not the media just a guy with a blog that VERY FEW people read.
You’re only one small speck in space
You’re only one life, soon erased
Be there none left on Earth but you
One thing will still remain true:
Now just as back then Nobody reads this but I try to learn these lessons to keep them front of mind…