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Media Interviews

Media Interviews :: What Need to Know About Making Statements “Off the Record”

By: Janice B. Gonzalez

We’ve all heard of the term “off the record”, which technically means that whatever you tell a reporter won’t be printed.

Don’t assume that just because you uttered those three little words that your information won’t appear in a news story the next day.

Here are a few tips and things that you should be aware of when giving an interview:

1) What you say isn’t off the record unless the reporter agrees to it. Make sure that you have confirmation from the reporter BEFORE you give the information.

2) You are better off not giving out information that you do not want made public. Just because you say, “this is off the record” doesn’t mean that the reporter won’t bring the subject up with someone else and get them to go on the record about the same information.

3) Reporters hate information that is “off the record” unless it means that they can publish the information without naming you as the source. Their job is to find information and report on it. Interviewing someone who gives information off the record is viewed as a waste of time.

4) If you are a government employee or part of a public agency, everything is public record , except classified information, and there is no such thing as “off the record”. Always assume that whatever you say, in any capacity, might appear as a quote in the reporter’s story.

5) Lastly, remember that the interview starts the minute you start talking to the reporter. Never let your guard down. Reporters are looking for information. You’d be surprised what information can come from “chit-chat” and “small talk”.