A lot of executives I meet hate the fact that they cannot really control what journalists write – the fear of being misquoted or misrepresent therefore makes media interviews too risky in their view. It is true that journalists, being human beings, are far from perfect. They may get things wrong, usually through genuine error rather than malign intent. The other point to make here is that reporters may speak to several sources, and get contrasting views of what happened in a particular situation; there is rarely just one view of ‘the truth’. Others will sometimes have a different perception from you, and this may be reflected in the finished article. The best advice I can give here is ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ – get a sense of perspective. Senior people can get incredibly angry over the one article about them that gets something wrong, forgetting about the positive publicity they have had from another ten which were broadly accurate. Small errors may seem important to you but will usually go un-noticed to the great majority of readers, and are unlikely to sway their opinion of your organisation, so long as the general gist is fair and accurate. If there are serious factual errors you should take this up with the publication, for instance with a ‘Letter to the Editor’ correcting the facts and incorporating some positive points.
Taken from The M-factor: media confidence for business leaders and managers, by Tom Maddocks www.m-factorbook.co.uk