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by Jim Cameron / Cameron Communications
Hardly a week goes by that a media training client doesn’t
tell me they’ve been previously misquoted in an interview. But first, let’s understand what a “quote” really
Some reporters think of a quote as a verbatim transcription
of your words. To others it’s just an accurate paraphrase. But some reporters will clean up grammar or
take things out of context. The first
two “definitions” are, in my view, fair.
The last two are not.
Here are some tips on avoiding misquotes:
DECIDE ON YOUR QUOTES IN ADVANCE: Craft your messages in sound bites, practice
them out loud but deliver them conversationally.
SLOW DOWN WHEN YOU WANT TO BE QUOTED: Most reporters take notes on the fly, either
with pen and paper or by keyboard if you’re on the phone. You can talk faster than they can write, so
slow down when you want them to accurately write down your words.
STAY “ON THE RECORD”: Not all reporters agree on what “off the
record” means, so don’t go there. Stay
on message and that’s all a reporter will have to choose from when picking a
ASK FOR A READ-BACK: At the end of an interview, ask the reporter
to read back to you any verbatim quotes they may have taken. If they don’t sound right, this is your last
chance to correct them before publication.
TAPE YOUR INTERVIEWS: Using a pocket-recorder to record your end
of a phone call will give you a record of what you really said. If your interview is face to face, show the
reporter you’re taping it (blame your lawyers) but don’t imply you don’t trust the
reporter. When reporters know you have a
recording of what you said, they’ll be ultra-careful in quoting you.
IF YOU’RE STILL MISQUOTED, COMPLAIN: Point out to the reporter that you think you
were misquoted. If they disagree, make
your case to their editor. Keep a civil
tone, but ask if the reporter can’t accurately a simple quote, doesn’t that raise
reader questions about the accuracy of everything else.
these simple tips and you’ll greatly reduce your chances of being misquoted!