Hooray – your PR agency has encouraged a journalist to speak to you…
Here are four things you should never say:
1. “This IS off the record isn’t it…?”
No! Only mention things that you are happy being in the public domain. Most journalists aren’t intentionally going to quote something they have been told in confidence.. but we’re all human, and with the best will in the world, it’s easy to forget what’s on, and what’s off the record. So make sure you only comment ‘on record’
2. “You will let me see a copy of this before its published, won’t you…?”
No! Journalists have full right to print whatever they want from a conversation with you – and most have a policy of not letting anyone see their copy before its published. They have short timescales and are knowledgeable professionals and know what their readers will be interested in. And it would be a total nightmare to get all copy approved. Let’s face it, wouldn’t want someone outside your firm checking your work. Just make sure you stick rigidly to rule 1, and you’ll be fine.
3. “Well, rumour has it that…”
No! Never speculate and never give rumours more airtime than they deserve. Stick strictly to the facts.
4. “No comment”
No! This makes you seem like you’re hiding something. Even if you don’t want to answer a particular question, you might try saying something like “I don’t have anything to add about that at the moment/I am unable to make any comment on that currently, but what I can say is…”
Have I missed anything out?