- 7:08 pm, Wednesday: Local TV reporter is interested in airing a client’s story Friday. She expects to air story unless breaking news pulls her in a different direction.
- 3:24 pm, Thursday: Local TV anchor from different station says she can possibly air story that night. This is my moment of truth, at least one of them. How many times did PR pros pitch me stories they neglected to tell me another station previously aired? Some PR pros want to air their client’s story as many times as possible. This goal conflicts with the goal of the journalist, who wants to air a story no other reporter has. When I aired sloppy seconds, my relationship with the PR pro was never the same. Trust was broken. I wouldn’t work with that PR pro again or would only do so with caution. Now I’m at a crossroads. I promised the story to Station A Friday night, but this business comes with no guarantees. Station B is ready to air it now, almost a sure thing. Maybe two stations would air the client’s story. That might make me look mighty good. For a moment, I’m Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader’s dark side is starting to make some sense.
- 3:43 pm, Thursday: I put down the light saber and decide not to kill Darth. I email TV anchor at Station B and explain I promised the story to reporter at Station A. I add that I will double check Station A is still planning to air the story before closing the door completely on Station B. But I’m not out of the galactic woods yet. I email reporter at Station A, asking for some re-assurance. I get no response.
- 4:02 pm, Thursday: I leave a voice mail for the reporter at Station A. She does not call back.
- 4:12 pm, Thursday: I contact one of her co-workers to locate her.
- 5:34 pm, Thursday: TV anchor at Station B emails back. Translation: It’s now or never. Am I about to pass up Station B, the sure thing, for tomorrow’s promise to Station A, whose reporter I can’t locate? The Emperor is pulling me in. The Dark Side is using a tractor beam to pull the journalism right out of me.
- 6:13 pm, Thursday: Station A’s reporter calls. Had I not received her email? She was somewhere without access to her phone. She still expects to air the story. She is grateful I didn’t let the Emperor become my new master.
The story airs Friday. I defeat the Dark Side. I obtain publicity for a client without abandoning one of my journalistic principles. Would you have done the same? Would you have instead taken all the coverage you could? Would you have taken the sure bet Thursday story over the possible Friday one? I stand by my decision.