Media Coverage Mistakes: What You Should Never Say to a Journalist

In Startups

Journalists have a way of gathering information that it can feel overwhelming sometimes

Whether it’s an insult, a compliment or just complete banter. Having the “foot-in-mouth” occurrence, tends to be the specialty of most people. As soon as the ‘heat of the moment’ is over, everyone reverts to their calmed selves, and all is placed on the back-burner.



Regrettably, that’s not the case when you’re having to speak with journalists

The distinguishing line between what you might say and what could be misinterpreted in print can be quite a nightmare for new and upcoming entrepreneurs. Hopefully, that shouldn’t scare some people off about founding a startup. A third-party content that’s written about your business gives you great lengths of good publicity and strengthen your company profile. All entrepreneurs long to get better at understanding the minds of journalists before any mishap happens. There are many unwritten rules, but if you restrain yourself from the things described down in the list below, you’ll get to keep a form a fit relationship with the media.


1. Don’t tell them what to write

Everyone knows not to get in the way of a journalist’s beat. They write about vital and groundbreaking news. Period. There’s nothing wrong with pitching a fascinating story to them occasionally. However, if you’re only interested in having your story covered, you’ll be crossing their boundaries. All journalists value their writing styles more than any other offer.

On another note, you could also dismiss a journalist if they ask that you pay in cash or other forms of payment for coverage. Once a journalist gets too comfortable as they realize that your writeup is in their hands, the serious of a problem it can be.

The correct way to do this is to contact the marketing department, rather than the editorial one for negotiating on publication for your business.


2. Reviewing their work before it gets published

It’s a daunting experience for us all once we realize that our interview with them has ended. The provoking feeling you get of not wanting to look like a fool gets to a lot of people. However, it’s a journalist’s right to write a story based on their own terms and observations. They shouldn’t need to feel heavily influenced from you.

There are occasions where some journalists will run down some facts with you but that’s just about the extent of it. It’s wise to wait for the publication to come out. When mistakes are found, ensure that you contact them politely and changes will then be made based on how they get corrections done.


3. Having your interviews postponed frequently

When a journalist is being asked to call back, they will feel irritated by your lack of professionalism. It is incredibly crucial to understand that the life of being a journalist is all heavy duty. Everyday calls for new stories, as soon as their done with today’s stories, they’ve got the ones for tomorrow to do.

If you’re being approached by a journalist, don’t take it for granted. It’s a huge opportunity for your business to grow and if the interviews are being postponed – your professionalism will be treated as poorly. Therefore, start valuing journalists like any other business person. Time is precious.


4. Saying things out of confidence and off record

A common faux pas that can ruin your chances of having a good interview with a journalist is to say things out of confidence and without realizing that certain topics can be agreed upon. Anything that’s scandalous and noteworthy will always have a deserving spot in a journalist’s story. It’s better if you confirm certain details with your journalist. Think before you speak comfortably. Think of it this way, anything you say or write down maybe used against you in the article. So, those bashful tweets and name-calling will be featured in. Private and personal mails will be headline news.

5. You didn’t make the cut

The work of all journalists requires a hefty amount of engagement and keeping up with name references. Journalists are the building blocks of letting other people be discovered. However, not everyone will be mentioned in the process. This may be due to the decision of the journalist, or the copy editor would have needed to fix some things. Anyone that would be left out would feel irritated at the journalist. Hate to break it to you, but none of that matters. What matters is your reaction to it.

Instead, turn to a new page and congratulate the journalist. This will be a good way to let them know that you can be a reliable source for them in the future.


Wanting to expose your business to the media can be very unpredictable

On the other hand, it does come with bittersweet endings. Always take note to treat journalists the way you would like to be treated by them. You are the representative of your company, so you must uphold a high sense of professionalism. Always keep yourself positive, engaging and approachable, and in no time, you’ll soon get to have that rewarding experience of being included in a feature.


Image Credit: LinkedIn

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