Media Training Tips

Media Tip of the Month

October: Should you expect to see your quotes before they appear?

Some companies have a rule that they will only let their spokespeople talk to reporters if they are allowed to see the quotes before they appear in the finished article.  This can be sensible in particular circumstances, for example there might be financially sensitive material involved.  Or perhaps it is a highly technical topic where the reporter is struggling to fully understood what you have said – you do not want a mangled quote to appear, perhaps making you and the reporter both look silly in print.  Mostly though, it’s better not to ask to see quotes.  Some publications forbid it, while the reporter may be offended that you apparently don’t trust them to get it right.  Most of the time they will just go to someone else for comment if they can, leaving you out of the loop.  If you do need quote approval, try to be friendly about agreeing the rules, rather than being too demanding – you might use a phrase like “I’m happy to talk to you, but can you run the quotes by me before they appear?”  Then with luck you can head off factual errors, but definitely don’t use this process to back-track on points you’ve made.  The journalist will want to use your strongest quotes, and if you start trying to remove them afterwards, or make them much more bland, they will not be at all happy.  (adapted from the book The M-Factor by Tom Maddocks)

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