Media Training Tip: Off the Record
Monday, April 23, 2012 at 01:00PM
Brewer in media training, public relations

Anything you say can be used against you … we hear that phrase on cop shows, but did you realize it applies to media interviews, too? We tell our clients to pretend as if the microphones are on from the time you see that news van coming toward you over the horizon until they leave and that van is no longer in sight. 

Nothing is ever off the record. Never, ever, ever.

It’s good practice to be on your best behavior and avoiding saying anything stupid, even if you assume the microphones are off and no one is listening. There have been so many “accidental recordings” … a politician has just closed his speech and thinks the mic is off at the podium. He begins complaining about someone, naming them by name, and the media has it all captured on tape for the 5 PM news … a top CEO has just finished a TV interview with a reputable reporter and as they’re walking back to the elevator (the cameras are off), the CEO turns and says, “I’m so glad you didn’t ask me about XYZ issue”. You can guess what was included on the evening news, right?

This post is not to make reporters out as untrustworthy. The purpose of this post is to remind you to think before you speak. To be well-versed in your key messages and don’t say anything you'll regret later.


Jenna Oltersdorf owns an award-winning public relations and design firm headquartered in Austin, Texas that specializes in media relations, internal relations, social media, and design.

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