Respected journalist, Ginny Dougray's article in The Guardian on having to give Claire Balding copy approval on an article for Saga magazine poses the question, is it right for brands to ask for copy approval...The answer is no - not if your PR rep has prepped you properly! End of.
Our job when it comes to media interviews is three-fold:
1. Get a solid brief from the journalist on what they want to cover in the interview - ideally with questions they plan to ask
2. Prep the interviewee so they are clear on their key messages, how to weave these into their answers while still answering the question and what not to answer
3. Ideally attend the interview - our job is just as much to protect the interviewee as it is to provide the journalist with the content they are after. If the conversation is going off-track, it’s up to us to step in to deflect, shield or prompt to steer the interview back.
If this isn’t happening then we’re just not worth the fees we’re charging!
After 35 years as a journalist, I experienced two firsts last week. One was that I asked for my byline to be removed from an interview I had written, which was a direct consequence of the other first: the subject of my interview being given, without my prior knowledge, copy control and – in a breathtaking liberty – removing sections of my interview and replacing them with her own, self-promoting, words.