Don’t Argue: You successfully persuaded a journalist to cover your client’s story. Your client is excited. The interview goes well, but the reporter wants more to work with before moving forward. You’re naturally disappointed. You thought you placed your client, but now you risk losing the story if you don’t come up with more. This scenario might naturally upset you. You might have a valid argument why the journalist could have handled the situation better. The reporter might make a comment you feel is unfair. Don’t get upset. Don’t get snarky. Confidently tell the reporter you will try your best to get your client to provide in a timely manner the additional elements needed.
Make A Call: If a journalist’s email indicates a story might be slipping away, call the reporter. Email doesn’t work as well when you sense a reporter might be disappointed. Show you care enough to make the story work by picking up the phone. Talk it out. What does the reporter want?
Keep It Real: Say a journalist conducts an interview and then is disappointed to learn other media covered versions of the story before. Explain you believe this story offers a fresh angle (which it genuinely should). And if the reporter disagrees with your assessment, ask her what she needs to help make the story different than past ones.
Confirm Interest: Ensure as best you can the reporter will air or publish the story if you successfully come up with additional interviews, pictures or whatever he wants. If you sense the journalist has given up on the idea, let it go. Don’t get desperate. Don’t push a reporter into doing a story he doesn’t want to. You can’t win them all.
The Commercial Comment: If a journalist decides this story is turning into a commercial, explain you don’t want that either. Respect a journalist’s desire to tell a real news story. You understand there’s a sales department for commercials. Find out what the reporter needs to make the story newsworthy.
Be Firm: Don’t B.S. the client. The reporter is not thrilled and wants something more. Tell your client you need this or that or no one may ever see the story. If your client is upset with the reporter, explain those concerns may hold validity but this is the situation. The two of you need to either take it or leave it.
Deliver Quality: Your client, desperate to find a second interview the journalist seeks, may ask a relative or best friend to play that role. People often tried to deliver me those interviews. And I sensed something was wrong. I asked enough questions and realized the interview wasn’t genuinely what I requested. This approach often back fires and makes everyone look bad. If you can’t deliver what a journalist wants, then explain that. Don’t try to salvage a story with a lame interview.
Provide Updates: Your client may need extra time to find other interviews, pictures or information a journalist wants. Contact the reporter on a regular basis. Don’t wait a week, making the reporter wonder if you and your client simply gave up. Explain you’re working hard and promise regular updates.