If you’re a PR person sitting in the room while I interview your client, don’t pretend you’re a reporter and ask questions of said client during the meeting. Tech journalists are spoon-fed enough as it is, you don’t need to jam the flatware down my throat.
Come to think of it, I may institute a new no-PR-in-the-room policy. Don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that before.
See also: Tip #32: Hush, now.
7 responses to “Tip #120: I’ll ask the questions here”
Excellent! One more annoying habit flagged and nailed.
You know why I insist on sitting in the room? So that clients can’t read your story afterwards and claim “I never said that”.
Teaching is learning from mistakes. Many (I won’t say most, but I’m tempted) spokespeople are intimidated by journalists, doesn’t matter how nice you are. So they fluff their lines. They assume you know things that there’s no reason for you to know. Then they wonder why the copy doesn’t come out the way they want it to.
The only way to fix it? Sit in, take notes, talk thru the highs/lows afterwards, then compare these notes to the eventual story. Then, they learn.
Yours is really a strong point. A silent witness is certainly a good thing for both the journalist and the interviewee.
Sorry, one more thing – you are absolutely right that PR people should keep their mouths shut in an interview. The only time we speak is to introduce the spokesperson at the beginning, and remind people of the time if we’re way over and there is someone waiting.
My journalist friend tells a story of one “gang bang” where she was faced with 4 PR people, all of whom wanted to tell their own story. She walked. I don’t blame her.
Regrettably, as a former reporter and media mouth for several Fortune 500 companies, I’d like to point out I was frequently forced to ask questions on behalf of the exec being interviewed. Why? Because otherwise intelligent people sometimes fail to stay on point; however, often the real reason is that we want to be of genuine help to the reporter. It really isn’t all about the spin. It’s about quid pro quo.
I agree with Stephanie above. I have often encountered execs that forget all of the cool projects their company is working on (and the point of the interview) the minute a journalist takes notes on the record. They rely on us in these cases to lend a hand. It’s amazing how many seemingly self confident execs melt the minute a note pad comes out.
The way forward is Solar Enegery and Heating..