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Tips for Avoiding a Negative PR Outcome

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No matter what some people say, all PR is not good PR. Good PR is good PR, and here are some tips to ensure that you only get the good stuff:

  • Even if a reporter is responding to a pitch you sent them, don’t assume they are writing exactly the story you offered them. Your pitch could have inspired a different story idea, or they might be thinking of including you in some kind of broader, roundup story. This is important information for you to have—before the interview starts.

  • If you’re not already familiar with them, research the media outlet and specifically the reporter's previously published articles, before you agree to an interview. Does their coverage seem fair, or like "gotcha" journalism?

  • Before you schedule an interview, ask the reporter what kind of story they are working on—what is their planned focus/angle, and might they be able to share any specific questions in advance?

  • Try to speak clearly, slowly and in an organized fashion, and in complete sentences. Stream of consciousness speech may be lively and entertaining, in person, but can be difficult to follow and report accurately.

  • If you’re nervous about being misquoted, or your subject is sensitive, ask the reporter if you can do the bulk of the call on background, and then go on the record for only a mutually agreed upon point.

  • You could also ask if you can conduct the interview via email (you might say you are traveling or in back to back meetings, but able to respond in writing if that works). Most top tier news outlets will want a “live” interview, in order to be able to actively report a story, but it never hurts to ask. Especially if you are only contributing a short quote or statement to a broader story (as opposed to being the subject of the entire piece), sending it writing should be just fine, and will give you greater control over the content.

  • Try to keep in mind that, while the thing you don't like about the final result may seem huge and glaring to you, odds are other people will either not focus on it with similar intensity, or at least not focus on it for too long before moving on to the next thing.

  • Be as prepared as you can be for the “delicate dance” that is the media interview, by following all of the other steps, outlined in this article, “A Media Training Guide for Lawyers and Other Professionals."


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