Thursday, March 15, 2012

When the Trouble Shooters Come Calling!

March’s luncheon presentation featured WOAI TV’s Trouble Shooter team Brian Collister on “Trouble Shooting Your PR Approach.” Collister has been an investigative reporter for WOAI for years and has fine-tuned his advice to public relations practitioners on the do’s and don’t’s of working with a reporter on the investigative side of the news house.

Here are his top five tips.

  1. Don’t try to defend the indefensible. If your company has made a mistake, admit it. But first, he also suggested you pay attention to the next four tips.
  2. Do NOT downplay the dollar amount. Particularly in the public sphere and especially in this economy.
  3. DO prepare your interview subject. That’s your job as the PR person and Collister expects that when he requests an interview. Surprisingly, though, Collister’s experience shows that far too many of his interview subjects are ill prepared.
  4. Seek forgiveness from the beginning and the process will be so much smoother for all involved.
  5. Poor Public Relations strategies are obvious to all. Think through your objectives and their consequences and remember that in the public eye, perception is reality.
Collister used two key analogies during his presentation that really sum up the way investigative reporters think.

The first was the analogy of three doors. If two doors are open to him and one is closed, he will always attempt to take the closed door. If you're in PR, you want to make sure your door to reporters is at least ajar!

He also used the analogy of ripping off an old bandage. It's far less painless if you do it quickly, than slowly. In other words, for PR people, get on the issue and resolve it fast.

Here's a short video from Brian Collister with tips on working with investigative reporters.

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