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You’re plugging through a busy morning. Meeting blocks fill your calendar leaving just 15 minutes for lunch. It’s a beast of a day.

Suddenly, the front desk patches a call through to you. Without warning, you’re on the phone with a news reporter who just wants a couple minutes of your time for a quote on some story.

NOW WHAT?

Some might opt for the quickie interview – it’s probably harmless; better not make the reporter wait. Others take a message and fearing the worst, never respond to the request.

Both courses of action are wrong, wrong, wrong.

A “quick” interview when you’re not fully prepared could lead to a poorly-chosen response. While not being part of the story might make you and your organization look like you have something to hide.

In either case, buckle up – it could be a bumpy, long news cycle.

Why go through that pain?

Here’s 4 Easy Steps to Remember When a Reporter Calls:

  1. Don’t do the interview. Not right that second anyway. Be polite. Get their name, number, topic and deadline. Promise a call back. Then hang up. It’s not the time to give an “off-the-record” chat a twirl.
  2. Email your PR consultant or director of communications. Send those particulars along and they’ll do all the background work (story angle, research, other story sources and more). I’ll dig deep into what interviews have been or will be done, the research they have on the topic and review past bylines on that subject.
  3. Review the course of action recommended by your PR adviser. They might suggest an interview vs an email statement, or the reverse. Discuss these options and ask as many questions as you can to feel comfortable. Come to an agreed plan of action.
  4. Follow through on the plan. Make sure you (or your spokesperson) do the interview or have your media consultant send the statement by the deadline. Never fall into theĀ “too busy” trap and fail to nurture this important relationship. Endless case studies show how crucial this direct link to key stakeholders and potential buyers can be in tough times when facing a crisis.

It takes no time at all these days for a bad news story to go viral. Give yourself and your organization the best odds of capitalizing on each and every earned media opportunity.

Committing to a little protocol goes a long way.

Erica Holloway is the founder and lead strategist of Galvanized Strategies.

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