What Not to Tell a Journalist
Now that everyone has a blog and two podcasts, you don’t need to be a seasoned expert to answer a journalist’s questions or appear as a guest on a show. Dealing with the media can be exciting but intimidating. What if they misquoted you? What if they secretly want to stab you? What if you’re so bored that the show gets canceled forever?
In a long media training article “Be our guest!” Paul Ford, writer and founder of digital media studio Postlight , explains how to handle all types of media appearances and interviews. Its main message is: most of it won’t affect your life in one way or another. “Nothing matters and nothing works.” And: “Any journalism is damn awkward. If journalism is uncomfortable, everything is going well. “
This does not mean that there is no way to screw up. Ford points out several serious bans that can damage your media reputation:
- Don’t raise your payment. Unless you post under your own name, you should only participate in a media survey if you are comfortable with not getting paid. “When you ask, everyone is really nervous about you,” says Ford.
- Don’t talk out of your ass. Don’t talk about an issue in which you are not really an expert, and try to connect the journalist with someone who really knows – and who would be interested in spending their time on it.
- Don’t ask for positive coverage. Whether or not it should be, most of the average person’s reach is positive. Asking for a guarantee is like asking, “Is the date good today?” The journalist will feel like you are pressuring them or expecting them to be your free PR department. (This includes asking you to inspect the finished product before leaving.)
- Do not lie. Many journalists may remember the first time a source lied to them, and we always hate that source.
There’s a lot of good news in Ford’s article too! But it is these prohibitions that will drown you. If you can avoid the big mistake, most media appearances will help you, at least by building your reputation in case you need a new job or a promotion next time. And if you’re really scared of ruining your career by saying something stupid on camera, you probably won’t be missing out on too much by continuing to work in obscurity.
Be our guest! | Track changes