For the first in a series of regular blog posts, Medavia managing director David Thomas asks how we can judge who to trust in the media…
Trust is the key issue.
Never before has the media has been so closely scrutinised for its conduct. And – as a national newspaper journalist for nearly 30 years I’m ashamed to say this — in some sectors it has fallen well short of the ethical and professional standards the public are entitled to expect.
The key issue is trust. As I write this, the reputations and in some cases the careers of politicians and other leading figures are on the line because it seems they placed (or misplaced) their trust in journalists.
So how, then, can the rest of us, without an army of advisors, be expected to make safe decisions when approaching the media – or when the media approaches us?
Suppose you have a story. It might be a particularly sensitive one but you wish to tell it and, quite reasonably, for your time you would like a fee to share with your family or perhaps a charity.
You want to be sure that your story is told in your words; that it is not distorted. And, because you can only sell your story once, you want to be sure you are achieving the best fee possible.
This is where it can get confusing. There are so many agencies, freelance journalists, magazines and newspapers all, apparently, promising they can handle your story better than anyone else. Who’s telling the truth?
There is no 100 per cent safe way to know — but we needn’t take “pot luck”.
We can minimise the risks of being misrepresented in what we say. By carrying out some basic checks and following a well-established procedure we can be as sure as possible that we are being treated fairly – the way we would wish – in every respect. The answer is…to “turn journalist” ourselves! Challenge and question claims and statements, as a journalist would. Here are some key examples:
Claim: “You will approve of the article we write about you.”
Question: How can you guarantee this?
“We will negotiate the best fee possible.”
How can you prove this?
“We have a wealth of experience.”
Okay, tell me all about it! How long has the company been in existence? What about the staff? How long have they been working in this field? What clients have you handled in the past? What do they say about you?
“We have unrivalled contacts in the media.”
How have you established this? Give me some examples of your “unrivalled” contacts.
“We always work in your best interests.”
How can I be sure of this?
Further research of the various web sites will also give a feel for the integrity and professionalism of the company.
Ultimately, though, I suggest the final decision in whom you place your trust rests on the most intangible – yet reliable – of factors. And that is simply your instinct. Most of us, most of the time, can tell, either consciously or sub-consciously, when the person we are dealing with is sincere, honest and genuine.
So, do the research, ask the questions set out above and then listen, not just to the words, but the voice.
To contact a Medavia consultant, call 0117 9076934 or fill in the form to the right of the screen.