Why you should never ask a journalist for a retraction

Seeking a correction about wrong or garbled information is perfectly fine. How you go about it, though, makes all the difference in the ongoing relationship with your media contact.

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Yet, when you see the story—the story you worked so hard to facilitate for your client or company—you see a mistake. So, what do you do now?

It’s a problem explored recently by Shelley Pringle on her Polaris blog in a post titled, “When to ask for a media retraction.”

If you really want the answer, it’s quite simple: You never ask for a retraction.

However, you can ask for a correction.

What’s the difference? Isn’t it just semantics? Not to the journalist you’re going to be calling.

A common mistake that PR pros and many others make is not understanding that a retraction and a correction are different.

A retraction is an admission that a media outlet got a story completely wrong. With extremely rare exceptions—and those happen only under the most egregious circumstances—media outlets do not issue retractions. Don’t ask for them.

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