Knowledge & Networks

The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with the Media

We caught up with Maria Slade the Editor of Unlimited magazine recently and she shared some do’s and don’ts on dealing with the media.

Read on for her insight, it might well be useful!

Maria’s key takeaway

“Before you approach any journalist make sure to take a moment to sense check, is it new and noteworthy? A good news story must be just that... news!


  • Build relationships with key journalists in your industry
  • Be aware of different media forms; the principles remain the same, but how we tell it changes.
      Print usually occurs over a phone interview
    • Online/Radio: will tell your story in snippets or bites which usually and update as the day goes on
    • TV: All about the pictures. If there is no good imagery the story won’t run
    • Social: Though NZ is lagging you can’t afford to ignore it
  • Pay attention to the media in your field or consult a PR company to advise on who you should target for contacts.
    • If you use a PR person, brief them REALLY well – they can’t sell your story if they don’t know it.
    • Always put the person who KNOWS the business up for the interview – especially if something’s gone wrong. It’s reasonable to ask for time but someone has to front.
    • The best sort of PR person will coach you on how to get a good story across.
  • Your homework on the media outlet you’re approaching and know THEIR audience, is it right for your business?
  • Reach out with a short email and wait for them to come back to you.
  • Ring chief reporter to give them a heads up, most journalists will respect embargo’s and the more time you can give them the more likely it is you will get coverage.
  • Accept that media are not all the same, so they need a selection of different quotes and angles.
  • Be upfront and honest, share your business problems so the audience can appreciate and learn from your mistakes.
  • Provide as much information as you can – including headshots, details and info-graphics.
  • Give your story some personality – why should we care? Who are you impacting?
  • Avoid sounding too media trained – don’t stick to a script - be real!
  • Respect their deadlines
  • Have your elevator pitch ready. Media are always looking for a good story, so know how to present yours.
  • Assign figureheads/experts within your company so media know who to approach
  • Don’ts

  • Send a press release out when no one is available to comment from your company
  • Send a story or media release at 5pm on Friday, that’s reserved for bad news.
  • Send a press release after already giving it to the competition. Target your media instead.
  • Tell a story over email – a conversation is better.
  • Overuse “off the record” – it’s confusing and annoying.
  • Ask to screen copy before its printed; you’ll never get it and you’ll annoy people. Journalists aren’t PR people – they are unbiased. However if it’s very technical information, you can request they call you back to fact check.
  • Expect a journalist to stick to a script. Understand your own boundaries and be clear with what you will and won’t talk about. In the end if the “wont’s outweigh, don’t do the interview.
  • Lie. You’ll be found out.
  • Be offended if they don’t want your PR photo’s.
  • Get annoyed by follow up requests from media. Their concern is for their readers and telling the story in the best way they can.
  • Ring to check a press released has been received – better to call to let them know it’s coming
  • Use of the phrase “bucking the trend”
  • Being told to “write that down”
  • AND the Ultimate Don’ts (these are journo’s pet hates)

  • Use of the phrase “bucking the trend”
  • Being told to “write that down”