5 Ways to Get Reporters on Your Side

As a former journalist, I’m always amazed at the misconceptions some professionals have about the best way to interact with reporters.  Sure, they’re after a good story – but (unless you’re running for president) they’re not bloodsuckers out to humiliate you or extract state secrets.

Here are 5 ways to build a rapport with reporters – and, hopefully, win good coverage for years to come.

1.    Respect their deadlines. You don’t like it when co-workers stand at your desk, yammering away, when you’re trying to finish a major report. Same goes for reporters. Thanks to the world of blogging, they’re often on deadline multiple times a day, trying to bang out articles and beat the competition. Whenever you call, always make sure your first question is “Are you on deadline? Do you have a minute to talk?”

2.    Don’t bull$*#% them. Reporters can sniff out obfuscation a mile away. If you don’t know the answer, it’s OK to ‘fess up. (You never want to be in the embarrassing position of calling to retract some statement you made on the fly.) Let them know you’re unsure, but will check on the answer and get back to them in five minutes, or an hour, or whenever is appropriate based on their deadline. They’d rather have accurate information later than something random you cooked up right now.

3.    Always call back. When a journalist calls (or emails) you, it’s for a reason – because they think you’re an expert, or you know something useful to their story. Even if you don’t want to talk to them – because you’re busy, or you’re in an SEC quiet period, or you just don’t want to comment about your CEO’s womanizing – there’s absolutely no excuse to ignore their call or email.  Respond and politely explain you’re not able to comment. You may need the reporter, and that relationship, at some point in the future. You don’t want their abiding memory of you to be “that person who dissed me.”

For the complete article, visit BNET

Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of Reinventing You (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, the National Park Service, and Yale University. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.