Here’s some key advice from former broadcast journalist Leslie Yeransian on what and what not to do when interacting with the media:
1. Don’t Micromanage: Whatever you do, don’t give your CEO cue cards to read from. Don’t tell the reporter he/she is limited to asking a specific set of questions. That just enrages a journalist.
2. Don’t Hover: Too often PR specialists hover over reporters, specifically in broadcast. After the interview, if a reporter stays on the premise to shoot a quick stand-up, don’t be a hawk.
3. Connect as a Friend First: Drop them a handwritten thank-you. A politician did this once—a simple note, surprisingly sincere, and I will always remember that. He took time out of his busy schedule to not be robotic, not be electronic, but be human and connect.
4. Deliver, Don’t Complain: After a story has been aired or printed, a journalist has moved onto the next story. They don’t want to hear criticism from you. Provide only the right bites in the beginning and you’ll never need to complain.
5. Picking Up the Pieces After the Fact Doesn’t Cut It: Oftentimes PR specialists don’t make it for the interview, but then scramble after the interview airs, saying we never agreed to that question: “I had no idea you were going to ask that.” A little too late.