You just finished a media interview, and you think you nailed it.
However, when the story comes out, your name is nowhere to be found. You feel rejected by the reporter, who clearly didn’t deem you worthy enough to be included in the story.
Few things frustrate media spokespersons more than providing the reporter with loads of information only to be omitted from the final story. It may not have been your fault, though.
Here are five reasons, most beyond your control, that the reporter may have dropped you from the story:
1. The storyline may have changed.
The reporter may have started with a certain story in mind, but shifted to a different one upon learning new information. There’s little you can do differently in this case: Reporters should be open to changing the story as they dig into it, and that means that quality sources sometimes get left behind.
2. The reporter may have upgraded the source.
Let’s say you’re a spokesperson for a government agency. If the reporter gets access to the agency’s director prior to publication, you’re probably going to get dropped from the story. Same thing happens if you work for a mid-size group specializing in healthy oceans. If you’re a no-name spokesperson and the reporter suddenly gets through to a Cousteau, he’s probably going to get quoted instead.
3. Publication may have run out of space.
If a newspaper story gets cut to 300 words, the reporter will have precious little space for quotes. Same for radio and television: If a story gets cut to a 30-second “anchor read,” your quote is gone. That’s not necessarily an indication that you did something wrong.
4. You may not have said anything useful.
Anyone who’s served as a reporter has had the nightmare interview in which a spokesperson refuses to say anything even remotely interesting. Even experienced reporters with a few hundred interviewing tricks strike out sometimes, leaving them without a single quotable phrase.
5. You may have said useful things in an unquotable way.
It’s possible that you had important things to say, but you buried them in technical jargon, unending sentences, or process words. If the reporter paraphrases you instead of quoting you, there’s a chance you fell into this trap.
Brad Phillips is the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog, where a version of this story first appeared. His firm, Phillips Media Relations, specializes in media and presentation training.