How NOT to Handle Media

By Gloria Hildebrandt

This is a genuine “blog” entry, in that it’s like a private journal entry about our business. You could call it one of my rants

Promising what you have no intention of ever delivering is a really poor tactic in media relations. Here’s what happened. I received an email message last week about an event that was going to happen, and I was invited to attend. The media relations company wrote that they’d be happy to arrange an interview with any of the listed stakeholders. I replied that I’d like contact info for the people so I could follow up with interviews later. The media company person must not have understood my request because she encouraged me to send her any questions I had for the spokespeople.
After the event, I asked for the email addresses of the spokespeople. Again, I was told to email her the questions I had for them and she would co-ordinate things. As I haven’t done enough planning to know the in-depth questions I will have, and I will not be working on this for a few months, I told the media contact to forget about it as I will contact the spokespeople directly when I’m ready to work on the feature.
It is not a big deal for me to reach anyone I want to for the magazine. Everyone is thrilled to be included in it. We usually have to turn people away who beg to have us feature them. But I thought the media person could save me some time by simply giving me the people’s email addresses. It’s annoying to undergo back-and-forth messages with someone seeming to offer easy access to interview subjects, only to want to be the go-between, the co-ordinator, the gatekeeper. Don’t insult my intelligence. I don’t need this and won’t participate in it. Do your job of connecting media interested in your story, with the people who can help tell it, and get out of the way.

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Gloria Hildebrandt

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