The Top 3 Things You Should Never Say to a Reporter

Are you ready to talk to the media and send out a press release? Hold on!  

Before you move forward, there are three key issues you need to be aware of that can ruin a big publicity win for your small business.

While you hear about all of the important activities you need to accomplish in your publicity efforts, here are three key things to avoid:

1. Never say “no comment.“

While this may be the easy response to an uncomfortable interview question, try to avoid saying it. These two simple words can have negative connotations and minimize your credibility.

Instead, try to maintain control of the situation as much as possible, and respond in a positive, upfront manner.  

Be honest and explain why you cannot give an answer. For example, you  might say something like, “I can’t answer that question because it is not our policy to divulge private, client information.” This way, you’ll reaffirm your authority without exposing confidential data.

Stressful media requests can pop up when you least expect it so it is a good idea to review how you (and your team members) will deal with various situations in advance.

2. Do not give opinionated responses without fact.

Think of your responses in terms of sound bites. You want your statements to be truthful and build positive awareness of your small business. Remember, reporters may only use portions of your quotes in a story.

Therefore, you want to be sure to speak in complete sentences and project clear messages every time you open your mouth. For an example of what can happen if you are unprepared, check out this NPR radio interview at

If you do not know an answer to a question, try not to guess or rattle on with a long, opinionated answer. Instead, simply say something like, “I don’t have that data now, but if you’ll give me your contact information, I will get that information to you as soon as possible.” Then, when the interview ends, be sure to follow-up with the reporter as soon as possible.

3.  Avoid saying “off the record.”

Keep in mind that anything you say to a reporter can appear in the press. Even if you have a solid relationship with a media member you trust, it is always a good idea to be aware of what you say at all times.

In fact, try to avoid stating anything you don’t want publicized. There is always the temptation to print the latest “gossip” and “inside news tip.”

With this in mind, I always advise clients to stick to their publicity training and key messaging when speaking to any media members, any time and anywhere.

These are just a few, key tips to help you with your publicity efforts and speaking to media members. For more information, suggestions and comments, feel free to contact me at info@ or visit Talk to you soon and have a great day!




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