Short Answers to Common PR Questions (First in a Potential Series), Volume 1

Today’s post is the first in a series in which I provide answers to the most common PR questions I receive from clients.

Author’s Note: It could very well be a short series  (like the Marla Gibbs Jeffersons spinoff, “Checking In,” which told the story of the Jefferson family’s erstwhile maid, Florence, and her “misadventures at the hotel with her co-workers: Lyle Block, her stuffy manager; Elena Beltran, her assistant; Earl Bellamy, the inept house detective; Hank Sabatino, the lewd handyman; Betty, the floor supervisor; Dennis, the bellboy; and Mr. Claymore, the hotel owner.” Comedy gold!) or just an abandoned pilot. Now where was I?

I am surprised as you are that despite combined the star power of Larry Linville AND Marla Gibbs, “Checking In” lasted just 4 episodes. 

Today’s question is one I am asked often, both by clients (note: my clients are all technology companies) and their customers (note: their customers typically are not technology companies):

Q: Will I be able to read the article before it goes to press?

A: First, I enjoy your use of the term “goes to press.”

And second, “no.”

Not only are you not allowed to see the article before it runs, merely asking the question is a bad idea. (Note: we’re talking solely about “earned media” here) for three reasons:

1. They’re most likely going to say “no.”
2. They may resent the implication that their article needs “fact checking.”
3. Despite your best efforts to resist, given the chance, you’re going to have a hard time going from “fact checking” to “editing.” And that’s not your job, that’s their editor’s job.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

1. If the reporter offers you the opportunity to edit the piece before it runs, obviously, take it. (Note: this rarely happens with top-tier press.)
2. If you absolutely must, you can ask if it’s possible to verify your direct quotes before publication. The reporter may still decline, but it’s a relatively standard query and less charged than asking to fact-check the entire story.

Next up? Easy ways for PR professionals to explain to people who don’t work in marketing what they do for a living. (I’m kidding. People you’ve known for decades have absolutely no idea what you do, and ultimately, will never know or understand.)


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