The care & feeding of reporters

The PR world is buzzing about a PR person who crossed the line with a reporter and was publicly outed for her indiscretion.

Seems like a good time to review what we call “The 10 Commandments for the Care & Feeding of Reporters.”

  1. Be respectful.  Reporters are overworked and inundated with information.  Respect them by not spamming them with off-target information.  Know their beat and read their articles.
  2. Be timely.  Reporters face constant deadlines.  If you offer an interview source, make sure they are available quickly.
  3. Be fair. If a reporter has worked well with you in the past, give him first crack at the next big story you have to offer.
  4. Be aware of other stories.  A reporter often has multiple assignments to complete.  While your story is important, an editor may have other priorities.
  5. Don’t bait and switch. Be upfront about why you are contacting the reporter and what you can offer.
  6. Don’t bully.  Be sensitive to building a relationship with the reporter.  Rather than getting ink for one story, think of this as the start of an ongoing association.
  7. Don’t lie or guess.  Integrity is the foundation of any reporter relationship.  If asked a question to which you don’t know the answer, find out and get back to the reporter promptly.
  8. Don’t ask to speak “off the record.”  The reporter’s job is to find out information.  Decide upfront what details you are willing to share and stick to the plan.
  9. Don’t ask to see the article before it is published.  The reporter is a pro and his editor will handle all necessary reviews. 
  10. Acknowledge the effort.  The reporter worked hard to get the story right.  Offer a sensitive comment on the work or drop a note to show your appreciation. 

–Linda Muskin

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