Journalists are a lot of things. Forgiving isn’t one of them. (I know, because I was one.)
If you do or say something that makes a good story, it’s set in proverbial stone. There are no take-backs.
To quote one of my favorite books — a slim volume of ancient poetry:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
That excerpt had nothing to do with journalism. It was a metaphor for Love and Life.
Nonetheless, it applies, and the rule is simple: Make sure your mind is in gear before you open your mouth. Always.
Perhaps, long ago and far away, there existed a simpler world where journalists were more understanding of newsmakers’ foibles and less competitive in chasing stories. More than likely, that’s a fantasy.
Certainly it’s not the case in today’s hyper-competitive world of 24-hour news cycles and instantaneous means of delivering news and opinions. If you make a blunder that gives a journalist an edge, he won’t abandon it — and everyone else will want a piece of the action, too.
Of course, understanding a journalist’s motivation is just the first step. It’s also the easiest.
The hard part is knowing how to deal with journalists effectively. That’s where the greatest danger lurks. (We’ll deal with this in a later blog.)
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.