Why the way you treat reporters affects your long game

Someone writing in a calendar

I once worked with a client who asked me what to do when a reporter inquired about layoffs in the area due to office closures.

“Let’s prepare a statement and get back to him,” I suggested.

They huddled with the lawyers. “We’re going to hold on this,” they said.

One inquiry then turned into two.

Still, the client wanted to say nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. The story was complicated and wasn’t easy to explain, but what if this business wanted to return to that area one day?

For some organizations, this approach works. Until it doesn’t.

For those organizations that rely on public trust to ensure business goes smoothly, communicators cannot take the risk of not treating reporters with professional respect.

It means asking about their deadlines.

It means responding in a timely fashion.

It means having something to say, even if it’s just a holding statement.

Last blog post, I mentioned reporters pitching your story to internal producers or editors for you

There’s a caveat to this.

You have to make sure your organization has the respect of these reporters. 

As a communicator, it’s your role to make the first move.