By Leigh Ann Hubbard

I get it. It’s scary. That department head may say something embarrassing, or be misquoted. And you can’t control the outcome! 😱

So when a reporter wants to do a story, they have to go through the PR department, no matter what. Or you don’t exactly encourage your team to do interviews. Or you hesitate to say yes.

And then, during a busy conference season like this, your team is traveling, and things like this happen:

  • At a conference, a department director shares a great story. I ask for a short interview. “You have to contact PR for permission,” he responds. I move on.
  • I offer to feature your salesperson on a livestream. “I don’t like being on video,” she says. Your company misses out.
  • A panelist shares an idea I’d like to delve into for a minute. She says she’ll catch up with me later. She never does.

And it’s not just at conferences. It’s amazing the opportunities some communities turn down — or never pursue.

This is the media training your team needs: “Say yes.”

Now, it is true that …

Misquotes Happen

Over the last couple of decades, I’ve been interviewed who-knows-how-many times on behalf of various organizations, and at this point, I just expect to be misquoted or taken out of context. Not a great testimonial for the state of our press today. But you know what? Only I notice, care, remember.

My organization was mentioned. There was no earth-shattering fail. Goal met.

How Wild Is That Card, Really?

Alright, say you have a wild card on your team — somebody who doesn’t think before they speak and could embarrass the company.

Sure, in that case, you might want to be more nuanced about this whole “say yes” thing. But consider this: Will they really damage the company, or are you just afraid of not being in control? 

As PR/marketing folks, we’re used to controlling the narrative. But sometimes, our tight grip can strangle possibilities.

Most people don’t want to lose their job by saying something out of line to a reporter. Do they have sense? If they have sense, let ’em talk. They don’t have to be perfect.

Surely There’s More to It

  • Yeah, you can get your team actual media training if you’d like. We’ll publish another article with general tips. (Subscribe here to get notification.)
  • Yes, there are controversial topics you might not want your folks to delve into. Ask them to use their common sense.

The overarching idea is: Your organization could probably use the publicity, right? Teach folks to say yes to obvious soft stories — the ones about great things you’re doing.

Otherwise, the only stories out there will be the negative ones — the ones the reporters pursue no matter what. Clamming up doesn’t fight that fire. It lets it rage.