Help! A reporter is writing a negative story about my client

A step-by-step guide to preparing for the worst in order to get the best results possible.

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What do you do?

Don’t get defensive. The reporter is just trying to do his job. Treat the situation like a difficult business negotiation. And follow this course of action:


Ask the reporter for his or her questions and ask for as much detail as possible, including the story’s hard deadline and whether the story will run in one or all of the publication’s various media (Web, print, etc.). Ask who the reporter has already spoken with about the story, but don’t be surprised if he or she is evasive; reporters often are reluctant to discuss sources.

Also, study the reporter’s background. Read his or her stories to see how he or she approaches them. If possible, speak with people the reporter has interviewed in your client’s industry and who know your client.

Finally, assess the influence of the reporter and publication, and how widely its stories are redistributed by news sites or blogs. For example, a Reuters story goes everywhere, but more specialized Web-based media have pay walls that limit the number of readers.


Assess the reporter and the facts that he has presented. Does he or she really have a story? Or is the reporter trying to get a comment from your client in order to build a story?

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