5 Rules to Live By When Dealing with the Media

This edition of Mentor Online is borrowed from material by Gwen Moran, printed in Entrepreneur Magazine, 2005.

While there’s plenty of useless conventional wisdom about dealing with the media, there are also some rules you should never break:

1. Respond promptly. “Remember that these people are usually on tight deadlines,” says Barbara Laskin, president of Laskin Media Inc., a New York City media training firm. Even if you’re unable to do the interview, say so in a timely manner.

2. Never say “no comment.” If you cannot answer a question, provide a reasonable explanation instead, says David Margulies, founder of Margulies Communications Group, a strategic PR and crisis communications firm in Dallas.

3. Never lie or speculate. “Aside from the fact that lying is wrong and unethical, it will come back to haunt you,” says Karen Friedman, founder of Karen Friedman Enterprises Inc., a media training firm in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. It’s always better to tell the truth and explain why you did what you did, even if your explanation is shaky.

4. Know the medium’s audience. Every media outlet is different, says Margulies. “Every audience wants you to address WIIFM-what’s in it for me.”

5. Stick to what you know. Do not try to be an expert or comment on an issue about which you are not fully informed, says Margulies.

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