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“You Said What?” – Keeping Your Communications Team in the Loop



By Susan Tomai

Calling all senior executives and officials: the last thing your PR/Communications team ever wants to hear you say is “Oh, I talked to a reporter yesterday and I forgot to tell you about it.” Say what?

Every day we hear about yet another communications blunder made by a leader in business or politics. We are not perfect beings – we make mistakes – which is why we have communications and media teams. It’s their job to understand and implement the organization’s communication strategy; it’s your job to run the organization.

A few tips to help you and your communications team work together more effectively:

  • Don’t talk to a reporter without first consulting your communications pros, so they can vet the interviewer and the direction and topic of the interview.
  • If you’ve just given a speech and are cornered in the lobby by a reporter, don’t just answer her questions – ask your own questions first. What’s her name? Which news organization does she work for? Get her business card, smile and tell her you will get back to her asap.
  • If your phone rings and a reporter is on the line, do the same thing: ask him the basic questions first, then politely tell him you’re in the middle of something and have to get back to him later. Then, immediately call your comms team and let them handle the next steps.
  • If you do an interview with a reporter and your communications pros aren’t there with you, record the conversation. Be transparent and tell the reporter you’re doing this to ensure accuracy.

May the words “You said what?” never be spoken again.

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