It’s common practice for PR folk to take notes during an executive interview with a reporter. Some companies take this at step further and either record the interviews or practically transcribe them. When a reporter is working on a feature and interviewing multiple execs, detailed notes obviously provide good insight on the direction a reporter is taking and how well the exec is responding and leading the company story. Read holistically, they also provide a current and deep view from all corners of the company that can be quite helpful in a fast-moving business for employees well beyond the comms team.
Of course, all this depth and breadth invariably gets boiled down into anywhere from a few to a dozen quotes. Twenty thousand words become a small part of a two thousand word story. When things turn out well, the essence of the conversations carry through to the story. Things don’t always turn out well.
My question: Why not post the transcripts all of the on-the-record interviews somewhere once the story does come out and regardless of whether its positive, negative or neutral?
You’re proud of the intelligence and the viewpoints across your company that were so neatly summarized in a series of closed door interviews. You have the notes in a handy Google Doc. So why not make them public? Others will be free to create their own stories from the conversations. People will learn more about how stories are formed. More insight into the humanness of the interview subjects will be had.
Who “owns” the interview anyway?
Whenever I bring this idea up, I get the immediate: “Well, reporters would think you are a dick and never want to work with you again.”
Well, maybe we need to think deeper about supposed rules of engagement. And, there’s no reason why this should be a antagonistic thing. The first couple times that you tell a reporter in advance that you will make the transcripts public once the story comes out will likely be an interesting conversation. But, if it becomes your thing to provide more transparency and openness to the dynamic of closed door media access, then it’s a pretty simple calculus for all parties discussing a future story.
What do you think? Insane? Useless? Helpful?
Personally, I think that the dance between media and companies can be about as antiquated as the jitterbug. It doesn’t mean that it’s all wrong. But, it can’t hurt to occasionally rethink and evolve elements of it that even the most social/blog friendly companies (and reporters) still twist and turn to.