I can’t believe I’m writing this, but public relations professionals aren’t the only ones who cut off their proverbial noses to spite their faces when it comes to interacting with the media.
Some folks do a mighty fine job all on their own.
Case in point: People who are quoted in a story and “demand a retraction” because they don’t like what they said, their boss doesn’t like what they said, they told the truth or provided a very insightful analysis but didn’t toe the company line, etc.
So, in the interest of educating the past, present and future members of the righteously indignant club, here’s how things work in a professional newsroom when a call or e-mail comes in demanding a retraction.
The editor asks the reporter to check his or her notes. And if the quote being questioned is in the notes, then the person said it (no matter how much they want to convince themselves, their boss or anyone else that they didn’t).
Now, we’re as human as anyone else, and we even make mistakes from time to time. And when we do, we’re glad to correct the error. However, we’ve also been doing this long enough to know when someone is suffering from “talker’s remorse” or attempting to perform CYA damage control on their end.
And here’s the kicker. No matter how upset you are about what you said (and trust me, you did say it), don’t write something stupid like: “I’m not surprised. I haven’t met a reporter who will admit when they get wrong, but you did. Please do not consider me a source of information in the future!”
While the exclamation point is a nice touch, what you’ve just done is move your business, organization, group to the top of the “do-not-call list.” (And trust me, it’s really not a list you want to be on.)
All your righteously indignant ego has succeeded in doing is ensuring that your competitors will be quoted instead of you, that your news releases will be filed in a plastic container lined with a plastic sack and that no amount of P.R. magic (which is probably an oxymoron) is going to get your business, organization, or group out of journalistic purgatory.
But hey, you still get to thump your chest and tell all your buddies how you were misquoted but got the last word.
Mike Boyd is editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Mike.Boyd@csbj.com or 329-5206.