Back in my days as B2B journalist, I was once told by someone I was interviewing for a feature that I should be doing my bit to boost the market.
They wanted me to write a positive piece about their area of the market. It’s the sort of comment that would have me rolling my eyes.
Why? Because putting a positive spin on the market wasn’t my job as a B2B journalist. I’d be doing a disservice to the readers of the magazine if I didn’t set out what was happening in the market – good, bad or otherwise.
Misconceptions about a journalists roles are common and those sort of requests not unusual.
My response was always the same, I would politely talk about maintaining the integrity of the publication by presenting an accurate view of the market. And they would always agree that that was an important thing to do.
It didn’t always stop them trying the same tactic to steer the editorial in a direction favourable to them another time. Sadly.
But this tactic never worked, it was tiresome and didn’t serve longer-term relationship building.
A B2B journalists job isn’t to do your marketing for you. A feature or news story isn’t an advertorial, it’s not a brochure.
What a journalist is trying to do is find out useful and interesting information for their readers.
How to be helpful
So if you come to an interview armed with appropriate information and commentary, you are going to be helping a journalist do their job – and are therefore more likely to get coverage.
My go-to people for comment would be those who always had interesting information, who wouldn’t try and talk up the market when the evidence pointed otherwise.
That didn’t mean I wouldn’t report positive stories when there were positive stories to tell but I knew enough to know when someone was trying to pull the wool over my eyes.
I was always looking for evidence to back up claims. That was my job.
The second big annoyance was people asking to see the copy before it was published.
This was annoying for several reasons. It’s like someone checking over your work, saying ‘I don’t trust you to be able to do the job for which you have experience and expertise’.
It is trying to interfere in something that isn’t yours to interfere in. The story or feature belongs to the journalist and the publication, not the person or people who have been interviewed.
Not for your approval
Look at it another way, it isn’t content you have commissioned and paid for so it’s not yours to approve or edit.
It’s not advertorial. It’s not your brochure.
My response was always the same when asked if I would send over copy prior to publication: ‘No’.
I did have a fall back response if pressed but that’s another post.
What is something that people ask you to do in your job or a previous job that is really irritating?
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