Here’s a common problem Publicity Hounds run into when they’re so eager for publicity that they’ll do almost anything for a journalist.
Last week, a reader asked, “I spent a lot of time talking to a reporter and we really hit it off. But when she wrote the article, I was surprised to see she used my information, but she didn’t use my name. What should I do?”
I hear similar complaints from people who spend a lot time researching a topic for a journalist, turn over their research, but are never even mentioned in the article.
Here’s what I’d do if that happened to me. If it was a short interview, I’d ignore the urge to complain. If the reporter called again, I’d ask specifically if the reporter planned to mention me by name in the article. If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” I’d give the reporter what she needs but I wouldn’t spend a lot of extra time digging up information.
But if I had spent an inordinate amount of time gathering information for the initial interview, and she never mentioned my name, I’d call the reporter and say that I was really glad I could help. “But I was disappointed that you never mentioned my name. I’m curious. Why did that happen?”
It could be that a copy editor had to cut the story and deleted the attribution.
Then I’d ask the reporter to please keep me in mind if she’s working on another story in which I would be a good fit–but to contact me only if she’s willing to attribute the information to me. That drives home the point that I’m still willing to help her, but only if she’s willing to make it up to me.
If she gets mad and never calls me again, so what? You can’t lose a good media contact that was never a good media contact to begin with.
How would you handle this dilemma and others like it? If you’re a publicist, have you devised a way to deal with reporters who are jerks? Has a reporter ever asked for special favors, then not given you or your client credit? If you’ve followed the advice above, has it worked? If you’re a media person, what suggestions can you share about how to increase the chances that a source will be named in an article? Would you ever come right out and ask a reporter “Do you plan to quote my client?”