One of the most common sayings you hear about PR is that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. There might be a grain of truth to that but I still recommend that you know what reporters want to talk about before agreeing to an interview. Just because you get a media opportunity doesn’t mean it will benefit you or your organization.
Remember that reporters’ first and foremost interest is to produce a really great story that will capture audiences’ attention. That may involve presenting your company in a favorable light but it might not necessarily be the case. It’s not that the reporter is going to do anything particularly nasty. It’s just that their story might not necessarily be in your interest.
One of my international clients received a call from a reporter at a prominent international media outlet asking for an interview. I was given the reporter’s contact info and we spoke about the article. The topic was whether the recently weaker US dollar was hurting international businesses that sell products in the U.S. He wanted to speak to my client about how well they were faring given this circumstance.
After we spoke, I thought about what my client could gain from such an opportunity. My assessment was that there wasn’t much to gain. At best, the client would look like they were facing challenging circumstances and at worst, looking like they were struggling. There wasn’t a good opportunity for the client to shine so I recommended passing on the opportunity.
Remember to ask the reporter questions before you agree to do any interview. Ask what the story is about and what angle they plan to take. You can also ask who else they are speaking to for the media piece. Many times, it possible to see the reporters past pieces so you can get a sense of their style of writing and the topics they like to cover. If you get the sense that the piece won’t really serve your interests, don’t do the interview.
Just because you have the opportunity doesn’t mean you have to do it.