Journalists have difficult jobs that require great attention to detail as well as meeting strict and hard deadlines. This can make them very picky about who they spend their time talking to. It also affects how they gather information for stories. If you’re a pain or hard to deal with, they’re going to put you on their blacklist and you’ll never get press.

Never Offer Them Money

If you suggest to a reporter you’ll pay them to write your story, they’ll ignore you. This isn’t how it works. They already get paid for your stories whether they’re a full-time or part-time journalist from the publications that print their stories. To be unbiased they need to avoid that type of interaction. Don’t put them in an awkward position like that.

Never Offer Quid Pro Quo

This isn’t much different from offering them money. In fact, it can be downright insulting. Many people erroneously offer to do things they think are helpful, such as promote the piece or repost it on their blog, both of which are not really that helpful. Of course, you’ll share a story of yourself, but it would be plagiarism to post the story on your site that someone else wrote.

Never Ask for Final Approval

A good journalist will fact check, but they don’t want the subjects of their stories to have editorial control. In fact, if you ask for it, you’re not going to get it and they’ll likely go with another story. Plus, we have a free press so they get to tell the story with the facts the way they want to.

Never Put Them Off to Another Day

Due to the tight deadlines that journalists have, the worst thing you can do is ask them to do it another day or even another time. If they call you, they need to talk to you right then, and they need to get it done. They don’t have time to wait for you to be ready.

Never Ask Them to Put Things Off the Record

This is from watching movies and TV. Anything you say to a journalist is on the record. There are instances where you can agree that everything is off the record in advance, but don’t say something then expect it to be off the record.

Never Criticize a Journalist for Leaving You Out

Sometimes you’ll go through an interview and spend a lot of time answering questions and then you’re still left out of the story. This can cause hurt feelings on your part, but understand that it’s not personal. You still made a connection with the journalist and they will call on you again.

Never Ask the Journalist for a Good Endorsement

This is not the job of any journalist. They are supposed to remain unbiased when they share your story. Asking them to cross those boundaries is unethical and could get your story cut. Instead, just focus on telling your story in a way that gets your message across.

Never Criticize the Journalist’s Profession

No matter what sort of disdain you see mentioned about the media in politics, it’s best not to say anything derogative and negative about the journalist’s profession if you want them to do a story about you. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how many people criticize them and then get mad when their story is wrong or not told at all.

Journalists and business owners need each other. Treat them with respect and follow their guidelines for entering their realm. This is not a time to try to break the mold, because it’s not your mold to break.

Eight Things You Should Never Say to a Journalist
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