How To Deal With Media Placement Errors

You are really excited because you or your business, product or organization are going to be featured in a local, regional or national media outlet. The interview went well with the reporter or producer and you’ve provided him or her with any additional information he or she has requested. And then you wait for the interview to appear.

You feel like a kid on Christmas – ready to see you or your business shine in the spotlight. And then you read the article or watch the segment and to your horror, there are mistakes!

Unfortunately, this happens more than it should when it comes to the media and reporting. So what do you do?

Here are some scenarios we’ve experienced with our clients at HJMT Public Relations Inc. to help you better navigate your options when dealing with media placement errors.


Scenario 1

The situation: A reporter at a national daily newspaper took our client’s sound byte out of context and used as a quote for a major news story.

What we did: In this scenario, we expressed our dissatisfaction to the reporter in the nicest way possible and also penned a letter to the editor to further discuss the subject matter, with our client’s points well stated.

The result: The reporter was very displeased that we were pointing out our client’s dissatisfaction. The letter to the editor was also not published – call it camaraderie, but more than likely that letter was never going to get placed because the letter was in rebuttal to what our client felt was bad reporting. Since then, this reporter has never covered or used our client again. He/she still holds a valuable position at this daily newspaper, but because we called him/her out on his/her reporting, and he/she felt we did so unjustly – there went the possibility of ever being considered as a valuable resource again.

The lesson learned: Make sure the mistake you’re pointing out is worth losing the relationship with a valued media outlet. Don’t act out in the moment. Weigh the consequences and then decide if the mistake is worth mentioning.


Scenario 2

The situation: A local TV producer ran a 5-minute segment on our client. Unfortunately, some of the names of the sources cited within the segment were inaccurate. The inaccuracies were very minor, but our client insisted we reach out to the producer to have the segment revised.

What we did: We contacted the producer and explained the situation and asked that the inaccuracies, while minor, be corrected.

The result: The producer made a couple of the edits, but most he/she felt were not important enough to be corrected. The producer also reminded our client that this was not a paid advertisement and that in most cases, minor edits like this would not be made as the source really has no control over what is used and how it is used. We smoothed things over with the producer and luckily he/she will continue to use our client as a resource, but had he/she not been so understanding, this might not have been the case.

The lesson learned: If the corrections are very minor and don’t impact the story overall, better to let the story be than show that you’re a difficult expert to work with.


Scenario 3

The situation: A reporter at a national online news site published a story about a client’s product and included some major mistakes about the product capabilities, functionality and overall presence in the marketplace.

What we did: We reached out to the reporter and his/her editor and provided line by line edits showing the errors.

The result: The reporter apologized and made the corrections within 24 hours of the story going live.

The lesson learned: If the mistakes in a story negatively impact your brand or falsely misrepresent your business or product, do everything in your power to get it corrected. The media also has a duty to report factual information. They want to know if they made a mistake and if they’re a reputable news outlet, they will do everything in their power to correct the story.

Media relations is so critical when it comes to public relations. There is no set standard for how you approach a reporter or producer should there be a mistake in his or her reporting. Each situation needs to be looked at carefully and next steps and scenarios should be discussed. Try not to let your emotions win and step back first to analyze what makes the most sense for your situation. Above all else, if you’re asking for revisions or edits, do so nicely. Kindness goes a long way.