Top Tips for Spokespeople: Don’t Frustrate Reporters!

April 6, 2016 10:01 am Published by

Recently, a reporter told me that it was nice to talk to a PR professional who shared relevant details and provided succinct information to help him better target the story angle. As a result, the reporter gleaned good information from all of his interviews and was blown away by the enthusiasm of all those he spoke with. This is the ideal outcome for PR pros when working with reporters, as we are the convener between the reporter and company spokesperson.

Across the profession, PR pros often get a bad rap for not knowing enough about our clients. However, it is sometimes the case that we are in fact knowledgeable, we’ve just done a poor job of appropriately prepping our spokespersons.

Here are five tips that PR pros should help their spokespersons with when scheduling an interview and speaking with a reporter:

  1. Make the Time and Mean It – If a PR professional outlines the reporter’s deadline, the spokesperson should be on time to ensure there is enough time for him or her to incorporate comments.
  2. Refrain from Requesting to Review Copy – One of the rights of a reporter is to create his or her own story based on the facts and interviews they conduct. We have to trust that they will accurately portray the story and information the spokesperson has shared. When an article comes out and there is something factually untrue, this is the only time that it’s okay to have your PR pro ask for a correction.
  3. Have the Right Attitude and Display Interest – During the interview don’t sound condescending to the reporter or sound like you aren’t interested in what you are talking about. No one likes to feel belittled. There needs to be a good mix between giving a reporter the information while explaining some of the industry jargon they may not understand. Remember your attitude and lack of interest can also jade what the reporter will write.
  4. Answer the Question and Don’t Give Runaround Responses – When a reporter asks a question, make sure to directly answer it and don’t talk around the question. If it isn’t a question you can answer, let them know you don’t have an answer, but can look into it. The worst thing to do is give a long-winded answer that doesn’t offer any usable insight and wastes his or her time.
  5. Don’t Forget to Provide Follow-up Information – If you mention something in the interview with a reporter and say you will send  follow-up details or will provide another contact who can share a different side of the story, be sure to do it. Even if you aren’t able to give them a contact with whom they can speak, it is better for you and your PR pro to be upfront with the reporter.

The next time you or your clients have an interview with the media, make sure to keep these tips in mind to better your relationship with the reporter and potentially improve the chances for a great article.


Relevant Articles:

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Eight Reporter Interview Styles to Be Aware Of

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This post was written by Veronica Mikitka Reed

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