Your client calls to say he or she was misquoted by the reporter.
“I didn’t say that—in fact, I would never
say that,” the client insists.
Thing is, the misquote isn’t terrible; it’s actually minor. But still, it’s gnawing at you.
Do you ask the reporter for a correction, or ignore the error?
Recently, a reader of my blog posed this question
. Crisis communications professional Melissa Agnes
“I got interviewed by a reporter last week, but the reporter seems to have misquoted me. It’s not a bad misquote, but it isn’t something that I remember saying—well, actually, I’m sure that I didn’t say it. Should I ask him to retract it, even if it’s actually good advice that I probably would have given if he had framed his question differently?”
Great question, Melissa! You’re not alone in this concern; I’ve also been the victim of minor misquotes and have had to make similar choices about whether to say anything to the reporter.
In this case, my short answer is let it go.
Reporters rarely make retractions for minor errors, and this reporter could resent your complaining about a point that he considers to be “minor”—or that he insists he reported accurately.
So you have to make a decision about which is more important to you in this case: Getting the quote right, but potentially alienating a media ally for future coverage, or maintaining an easy relationship with this reporter. I’d choose the latter.
If the quote represented you badly or made an opposite point, I’d feel differently. But given that you were happy with the quote, it seems like this one falls under the category of “no harm, no foul.”
Still, you might want to be a bit more on guard with this reporter next time. If it becomes a chronic problem rather than an anomaly, I’d recommend a different approach, such as discussing the problem with him, contacting his editor, or conducting your interviews with him over email (to maintain a paper trail).
[RELATED: 5 ways to avoid being misquoted]
Brad Phillips is the president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training. He blogs at Mr. Media Training, where a version of this story first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @MrMediaTraining.