Nothing shocks me much these days. In PR terms I’ve been around the block – Spotlight has been a specialist insurance PR agency for more than ten years alone and I’ve been in PR a lot longer than that. Yet this morning I read a polite notice issued from one of our esteemed trade magazines, sent out on a round robin email to all PR teams, which took my breath away.
Seriously, do PRs still make the mistake of asking journalists to see copy before it is published? Come on guys, that was one of the first lessons of ‘PR school’! It questions the professionalism and integrity of the journalists we work with.
Ultimately a lot of what PR is about comes down to trust. We build solid and enduring relationships with the media we target for many reasons, but one of these is certainly so that they understand our clients’ business and are less likely to misrepresent or misquote them. It also means that they trust us that we will put clients forward for interviews and feature contributions who are relevant and have something interesting or useful to contribute.
If there is ever a worry that the client will be misquoted, either because the subject matter is complex or for any other reason, or if there is a strategic reason why certain messages fundamentally need to be communicated, then do not ask to approve copy. The right thing to do is to do your prep in the first place. Make sure the client is properly briefed and has their key messages to hand. Make sure they are confident to deliver a good interview. Also, follow up – send an e-mail to the journalist thanking them for conducting the interview and take the opportunity to outline again in writing the key points that the client wanted to get across…this is also a good opportunity to confirm complex facts, names or figures. All of this will limit any chance of being misquoted and increase your chances of getting the clients’ key messages across. Yes, this means doing a bit more leg work, but this is our job. Simply asking to approve a journalist’s copy instead is plain lazy and fundamentally breaches the trust that we work so hard to maintain. Buck up.