9 journalistic interview tactics to identify and resist

Speaking to a reporter can be like walking a tightrope. You want to be truthful, of course, but off-the-cuff remarks can land you in trouble. Follow this guidance to maintain your equilibrium.

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Some reporters use interview techniques that can catch corporate communicators off guard, resulting in replies they later regret.

Most journalists don’t use underhanded tricks, but PR pros and corporate executives still should look out for these nine curveballs:

1. Off the record questions. Some reporters request information in confidence but publish it anyway. Sometimes they never intend to keep the comments private. Sometimes remarks are reported by mistake if the interviewer, interviewee or both misunderstand when the off-the-record session ends. Respond with a simple, “I won’t go off the record.” Consider everything, even post-interview banter, as being on the record.

2. “Just between you and me …” This is a variation of the “off the record” request. Reporters try to act as your confidant. Respond by asking for clarification as to whether they’re asking for information off the record. Then decide on your course of action.

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