How to avoid a common syndrome among PR people

Are reporters missing the story you’re trying to tell? Are they ignoring you altogether? Maybe you’re suffering from a common disorder in PR.

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My firm has offices in New York City and Washington, DC, so I frequently take the train between the two cities. On one such trip, I overheard a PR professional speaking to a colleague.

“The reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News completely blew the story,” she said, clearly infuriated. “I talked to him forever, and he totally missed the point!”

I immediately wondered whether the problem was that she had said too much—and by doing so, might have obscured her message.

Too often, media spokespersons fall victim to the “tell them everything you know” syndrome. They wrongly believe that their primary role in an interview is to provide the reporter with an in-depth education instead of remembering that their main goal is to influence the story and get the quotes they want.

Sure, providing reporters with the information they need in order to file a story is an important part of your job as a spokesperson. But the more detail you provide, the more likely a secondary or tertiary point will make its way into the story instead of a primary one.

Put another way, a media interview isn’t about downloading your knowledge—it’s about prioritizing your knowledge. As we tell our clients, the more you say, the more you stray.

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