Blab to the World About Yourself
The prime example was Republican candidate Mitt Romney's speech to high-roller campaign contributors who paid $50,000 a plate to attend a fundraising dinner in Florida. Thinking his talk was "off-the-record," Romney proclaimed 47 percent of Americans were freeloaders who took no responsibility for their own lives. The speech was taped by bartender Scott Prouty and went viral around the world. This very likely cost Romney the 2012 presidential election.
How I Am Different
I am not part of the traditional media. Being in the trade press, my goal is to provide useful information to my readers.
When an interview subject tells me something is "off-the-record," my hands immediately leave the computer keyboard. They remain conspicuously off the keyboard until it is mutually agreed we are back on the record.
When I have the first draft of a story done, I usually send it to the interviewee with the following request:
- Kindly read it over.
- If you feel I have misquoted you, tell me and I will correct it.
- Did I get any facts wrong?
- Would you like anything removed?
- Anything we did not cover you would like to add?
Takeaways to Consider
- If you want exposure, the words and images should be entirely your own. Tweets, articles, white papers, blogs and books can be useful to your career.
- It is imperative that you maintain tight control over your words and images at all times.
- Beware of all interviewers. They are out to generate hype and controversy. Unless muzzled, they can misquote you, leave out important information and generally twist your words to fit their agenda (or the agenda of their editor).
- When you are asked to be an interview subject, always demand to see the finished product before it is published or runs and make sure you have the right of pre-approval.
- Whenever I am asked for an interview—in person or on the phone—I say this: I am a write guy, not a talk guy. If you will submit questions in writing, I will get back to you within 72 hours with answers. (Or sooner if under deadline.)"
- Before it runs, I want to see it, so I can tidy up my prose.
- If you have ambitions for personal recognition and affirmation, I urge you to hire a top P.R. and publicity person. Examples: Bob Dilenschneider, Michael Levine, Edelman or Ruder Finn. Otherwise the media will manipulate you.
- The media are in business to get ratings—readers and viewers. They will eat you alive.