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Dealing with difficult journalists

Media Conversation

A great many journalists I deal with are, well, just like you and me. They’ve a different job to do, but they are just trying to do it to a good standard – to make the right judgements, get the facts right and communicate events that matter clearly.

They’ll also have a sense of humour, like a gossip, and a good complain about their work, competitors or their relatives. Journalists see a lot, and many are clever, knowledgeable and interesting.

Then there’s the odd ‘one’ – the reporter no one in the PR office likes dealing with. They are a small minority, but I wouldn’t quite call them ‘rare’.

What makes them hard to deal with? Well, there’s a lack of respect, though you just sort of swallow that. Mostly, there’s a feeling they’ve already decided what the story is, and are just trying to shoe-horn your client’s information and quotes into that story – the fear they’ll come out looking worse than they deserve, just because it made a more lurid story. You sense they’ve got an agenda from the line of questioning.

But deal with them you must.

There’s no foolproof approach here, but the following points are good advice I’ve been given down the years and try to apply:

If you’ve had a bad experience with a reporter, I hope you’ll get in touch – we can talk about how it might be a bit better next time around.

Media training: Our expert training covers the different types of media, how to deal with difficult questions, how to deal with journalists and how to perform in front of the camera and on radio.

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