6 Top Tips for Dealing with the Media

Cultivating a good working relationship with the media is not easy; it’s totally unlike a traditional business relationship and the process can often be counterintuitive. Understanding how reporters think and behave is extremely important if you or your company is ever the subject of a pending article or if you want to proactively tell the media about something you’re up to. 

Here are six basics for dealing with the media: 

1. Most reporters are not “out to get you” unless they perceive that you are trying to hide something from them. They are curious and can be tough, but they also want access to your thinking. 

2. Reporters don’t “owe” you anything. There is no implicit or explicit quid pro quo. It is not a transaction — you are volunteering to help them out for the good of the public. Just because you speak to them, doesn’t mean that you will be quoted in an article. Reporters talk to hundreds of sources a year that they do not quote. 

3. Directly asking a reporter to include your quote in a story or to write a profile of your company is the best way NOT to get included because it makes the reporter feel like you are basically looking for free advertising. This also means it’s important to know in advance of an interview what a reporter WANTS to hear, and not just what YOU want to tell them. 

4. Reporters view themselves as public servants (although they also want to write stories that are widely read) — treat them that way and they will respect you. 

5. Trying to restrict what questions a reporter can ask just makes them more curious about why you don’t want to talk about something. 

6. Reporters respect you more when you respect what they do, and read their stories and understand what they’re interested in. 

We’ve seen some of the savviest and most well connected people completely misunderstand or mismanage their relationships with the media. Politicians and sports figures do it all the time. Understanding how reporters think and behave will result in a more positive working relationship. 


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