Russell Eldridge

Senior Trainer / Editor and Journalist

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Top ten things that annoy journalists when dealing with PR or spokespeople

The last thing you want to do when being interviewed is to annoy the journalist. To avoid this there are things you should definitely not do in a media interview and things you need to prepare in advance. Here you’ll find the top tips to avoid getting off to a bad start in any media interview.
  • Acting as a shield for a manager or other official: If the journalist gets the impression you’re just there to fob them off rather than provide useful information, you’re off to a bad start.
  • Shying away from bad news: As soon as you evade a tricky question, the interviewer knows they’re onto something.
  • Not doing your homework before speaking with a journalist: You’re the talent; have some answers.
  • Not answering the question: The journalist has called you for a reason. If you don’t address their concerns, you’re asking for bad publicity.
  • Obfuscating when you don’t know the answer to a question: Just admit you don’t know and tell the journalist you’ll get the answer for them.
  • Getting personal when under pressure: Mostly, the journalist is just doing their job – like you. Stay on message.
  • Lying. Need we say more.
  • Making legal threats: It’s not your job, and indicates something to hide.
  • Not returning calls: It’s bad manners, and the story may run to your disadvantage.
  • Demanding to see the story before it runs: The media organisation employing the journalist ‘owns’ the story, but you ‘own’ your quotes and the facts you provide. You can ask to check those.

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