After the Interview

You spend hours preparing for your interview, another hour in front of the camera and you are on the evening news for a grand total of six seconds. Or worse, the entire story is preempted by a plane crash. Or you may spend half a day with a newspaper reporter and be quoted only once, or not at all. Don't be disappointed. Stories often are edited or "killed" for various reasons. However, the time you spent helped establish a good working relationship with the media that will benefit you in the long run. Chances are, the story will appear later or the reporter will be back.

When will the story appear?
Reporters are reluctant to tell you when an interview will appear, usually because they don't know. Timing is up to their editors or producers. Strategic Communications often can find out for you, if there is a scheduled date or time, or we can obtain videos or clippings.

The story was fine, but the headline! Remember that reporters have nothing to do with headlines. Those are written by editors on the copy desk, often under great deadline and space pressures.

When a story is reported well, let the reporter know with a phone call or letter to the editor. But don't overdo it. If you're too complimentary, reporters may worry that their story wasn't balanced enough.

Newspapers will run corrections, but they don't like them. Minor inaccuracies or differences in viewpoint usually aren't worth making a fuss. However, serious errors and misconceptions should be brought to a reporter's attention. Strategic Communications can assist you in dealing with these problems. Some options: Call the reporter to clear up the inaccuracy. Many reporters either will write a correction or do a follow-up piece that clarifies the information. Avoid going over the reporter's head unless the reporter is completely unresponsive. Contact the ombudsman, if the medium has one, to look into how and why errors were made. Write a letter to the editor. Be brief and to the point. If you don't edit tightly, the newspaper will do it for you.