So… your business to business PR agency has got you in front of a journalist. So far so good.
As well as the obvious things, like saying something derogatory about the journalist’s previous work, or criticising your own organisation… here are four things you should never say to a journalist:
1. “That’s off the record…”
No! If something is off the record – just don’t say it at all. The responsibility should be yours to decide and remember what should/shouldn’t be in the public domain – not the journalists’. Whilst most journalists would probably honour an ‘off the record’ comment, you have to realise that there is a chance it will be included (usually because of a genuine mistake, rather than malice). As my mum always says “when in doubt, say nowt”.
2. “I’ve heard a rumour that…”
No! Don’t speculate, or give credence to rumours. Stick to the facts.
3. “Can I see a copy of it before you go to print..?”
No! Journalists are doing their job, which includes having the freedom to write from the notes they have taken. Stop trying to micro-manage (!)
4. “No comment…”
No! If ever there was a phrase which to the reader/listener means “something to hide”, then that’s it. Rather than saying just “No comment”, what about saying “We are unable to make a comment on that at the moment, but what we can say is…”
You might have been interviewed to get your views on a particular topic (like France Line was on Ecotaxe for Freight Business Journal). However, if the reason you have been asked to speak is because of a crisis, you might like to read my other blogs on communicating in a crisis.