When journalists are granted entry to internal meetings and offered access to a group of employees, it is critical to establish ground rules governing the interaction that will be negotiated and agreed to by both parties in advance of reporting commencing. For example, a company’s PR representative should be present and taking notes during all interviews with company employees. The point is not to interfere with the interviewing process, but to understand the underlying purpose of the line of questioning, to prepare the next interviewee in terms of what to expect, to adapt key messages when necessary and to take care of follow-up as needed. If the story starts going off the rails, the PR people will know because they are involved and can work to come up with strategies and ideas that could turn a negative trajectory around.
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