How to ask a newspaper for a correction

Your hard work finally paid off: The local newspaper just included your client in a front-page trend piece. Too bad there’s an error in the story. Now what?

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What do you do?

During my days as a newspaper editor, I was astounded by the number of people who called the paper to report inaccuracies but asked that corrections not be printed “because we don’t want to call more attention to the error.”

That’s the wrong tactic. Always call and ask for a correction. Many public relations people disagree with me and believe you should “save your ammo for the really big battles.” I think that’s dangerous. Here’s why.

Printed corrections usually are filed along with the original article in the newspaper’s library. If a different reporter refers to that incorrect article several months later, she will know there was inaccuracy and will not repeat it because she will see the printed correction. That’s the reason you ask for a correction—not so people will read the tiny little paragraph buried at the bottom of Page 2.

If you need to ask for a correction, start by calling the reporter who wrote the story, but don’t belittle or yell at the reporter. Explain the inaccuracy, give him or her the correct information, then ask the reporter to read the correction back to you after it’s written. You do not want an inaccurate correction.

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