Off Camera, Off Sides
Chicago Media Training: For the Record
The phrase “off the record” isn’t new to fans of almost any crime television show and it does have real world applications. Journalists often use the term to gain information from their sources or to protect the identity of their source. However, the term “off the record” has a different meaning depending on the interpretation of the journalist or person in question. You may believe it to mean one thing, but the person who is asking you to share information, may have a different understanding of what it could mean.
Typically, “off the record” means that whoever you’re speaking to should not “credit” or list you as the source of the information that you give to them. However, others believe that it means that whatever you said cannot be printed for the public to see; the information that was given was done so to clarify a point or solidify understanding.
There are times when an interview is a necessity and there are times when it is necessary to turn down a media interview. If you do decide to conduct an interview, it is best to establish the scope of your conversation, the terms and conditions as well was what you both believe “off the record” to mean. Just beware that are a few unscrupulous people out there who only want to get ahead in life, these people may not honor the terms and conditions of your conversation. The repercussions of a journalist sharing information that was given “off the record” could have a negative impact on you. Remember, courts don’t acknowledge the sanctity between journalist and source, and may force the journalist to disclose your information. Depending on what was said and what was reported in print; you may lose your credibility, job and may even put yourself in danger.
If you do decide to continue with an interview you need to remember a few simple things:
- You should consult with a professional communications agency. They are trained to help you navigate any treacherous waters that you may encounter and will ensure that you are more than adequately prepared.
- Define the exact meaning of “off the record” as well as the terms and conditions of the interview, so that you both are on the same page.
- If you know the reporter and can trust them, you are generally a lot safer than with someone you don’t know and trust. Communications agencies generally know which journalists are safe and which are a no-go.
- Remember, it is easier to not say anything than to try and take it back. People won’t forget what you said be it on or off the record.
This is why it is important to ensure that you have the right media training. Media Training in Chicago is an important part of what we do here at The Michael Group as it is a vital component of public relations. You as the client are taught the necessary skills to effectively communicate as well as develop a sense of confidence and clarity when dealing with the media.