With the Texas Legislature back in for another Special Session this month, the Capitol is busy once again!
Many of us see familiar faces as we walk down the halls or attend committee meetings, so it is no surprise that great friendships form within the Capitol crowd — including with members of the press.
And while maintaining lasting relationships with journalists has long been the backbone of Mach 1’s operations, we are the first to recognize that reporters have a job to do, which often involves asking tough questions. So, we’re excited to share our top tips for managing relationships with the dedicated reporters who navigate the complex world of politics with us:
- BE PREPARED
If you plan to sit down for an interview with a reporter, you (and your press team) should know all the logistics beforehand: medium, deadline, print/air date — and ideally, their angle.
We’ve seen it first-hand: an ill-prepared interviewee can get defensive — leaving both parties viewing the interaction as a negative experience.
- UNDERSTAND THE REPORTER’S STYLE
As soon as you agree to a comment or an interview, you should remove yourself from the personal relationship and consider every interaction professional. No matter how chatty or sympathetic a reporter may seem to your cause, only tell them what you’d be willing to have “on the record,” — even if you agree to speak “on background”. Be prepared to deliver your core messages and stay on topic from the moment you enter the room to the moment you leave. This is an interview, not a conversation.
- RESPECT THEIR ROLE
While having a friendly relationship with a reporter is wonderful, it is important to remember they have a boss to answer to — they aren’t just going to serve you softball questions because you’ve shared coffee at the Capitol Café. Respect their role and be receptive to criticism on your issue — all you can expect is a balanced piece with an accurate representation of your position.