3 Takeaways from Our Coffee With Session
As public relations professionals, our job is to protect our clients and maintain good relationships with the media. But often times, we find ourselves in situations where those two things are at odds with each other. If a reporter is pushing to interview you or your client about a negative or controversial story, how do you turn down the opportunity and still maintain a good rapport with the reporter?
Today, we had the pleasure of hosting a “Coffee With” session. “Coffee With” is PRSA Maryland’s new, informative series for public relations professionals to meet agencies, network and engage in a group discussion about topics relevant to the PR industry. After racking our brain for a few weeks, we decided that our group discussion should focus on how to navigate difficult conversations with the media.
We hosted an informal, conversational style session – complete with pastries, juice and coffee of course – where we swapped war stories with other PR professionals in Maryland. Here are the three biggest takeaways we discussed:
- Stay cool, calm and collected: If you have a reporter or editor who is probing hard for a story that you can’t comment on – don’t allow yourself to be intimidated or feel forced to comment if it truly isn’t a good fit. Respectfully decline the interview and do what you can to end the conversation on a positive note.
- Don’t leave ‘em hanging: If you or your client truly can’t comment on a story, don’t leave the reporter twisting in the wind – especially if it’s a reporter you work with frequently. Do what you can to offer up an alternative source who would be more appropriate or qualified to answer the reporter’s questions.
- Be realistic: While you are always well within your right to turn down an interview request, if you are constantly turning down the opportunity to comment during crises or controversial situations, don’t be surprised if the media is less than excited to cover your positive, fluffy news. Relationships with the media are supposed to be mutually beneficial and if you are frequently difficult or never want to supply hard news, you may see your relationship with certain members of the media change for the worse.
Interested in learning more about media relations best practices? Looking to jump start or enhance your own public relations program? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.