What should you say (and not say) to a reporter?

 

A reporter has left you a voice mail … what do you do?

Answer the message immediately. In fact, you should answer it within the hour or sooner. Reporters always have a deadline they have to meet and often are calling you at the last possible second. I can’t tell you how many reporters have called me saying “sorry this is so last minute, but my deadline is in an hour.” Remember, the number one way to sell your business is through the media.

Second, nothing is ever “off the record” … NOTHING. So if you don’t want it printed, don’t say it. For example, a few years ago a reporter interviewed me for a story he was doing. After the interview was over, we chatted for a few minutes and out of the blue he asked me the following question …

“Mrs. Giovanni, I need your advice about something”

Since reporters generally don’t ask me that (combined with the fact that he had just told me he graduated from college the previous year and this was his first job) my radar was immediately up. So I answered “sure what’s up?”

He then told me a story …

He said that a few days ago he asked a concierge what the strangest thing they have ever done for a client was, and the concierge told them they owned a few limousines and could get their clients any recreational drug they wanted. They then told the reporter that “of course that’s off the record right?”

“So I have a problem. Technically, if you want it off the record you have to say it before the sentence, not after. So I could use that if I wanted to. I already told my boss about the interview and he wants to run it, but I don’t want to write it because it will hurt your industry. Plus, I really don’t want to give that guy any free press because he doesn’t deserve it. What should I do?”

A reporter with ethics! I immediately LOVED this kid!!!! He was warm, friendly and genuinely wanted to help. So we chatted for about 20 minutes and I advised him to go with his heart. Of course, I also agreed that it would seriously hurt our industry if he ran the story.

For the next month I patiently waited for the story to come out. I went to his newspaper’s website and ran searches to see if his article had come out. Nothing. I’m pleased to report that he stood his ground and never printed it.

So the moral of the story? NOTHING is off the record. If you say it, there is a good chance they’ll print it so be careful! I would also only provide services that are legal, moral and ethical.

Lastly, most reporters will ask for your funniest concierge story. That’s fine, just don’t give your client’s name. If it’s a story about your client George Clooney, for example, tell the story and just say “a celebrity client of mine once asked me to….” Confidentiality is the hallmark of the concierge industry and should never ever be broken.