How to Work with a Reporter to Correct an Error
We’ve all been there. You came up with the perfect pitch, got in touch with a reporter from one of the top outlets on your target list, and secured an awesome placement for your client. You waited patiently for the story to publish, refreshed the site a few dozen times, and then boom! It goes live. You read the story excitedly, proud of the part you played in making it happen, and then you spot it – a teeny, tiny (or huge, glaring) factual error in the story.
Now what? You’re eager to share a great piece of coverage with your client, but you don’t want to let one bit of misinformation spoil what would otherwise be considered a victory. Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you work to straighten out the problem:
Share the link with your client as you would any other piece of coverage, but be sure to call out the issue in the story. Let them know you’re on top of it and you’re reaching out to the reporter to request a correction. Your client trusts you to help tell their story, and proactively answering their questions before they ask them goes a long way to maintaining and strengthening that trust.
Reporters have a tough job! With the constant consolidation the media industry is facing, your contact probably has a lot on their plate. The error was likely a result of the reporter jamming to meet a tight deadline or a simple miscommunication during your conversation with them. Make sure the tone of your message conveys that you appreciate their time and the content of your message clearly, concisely points out the error and provides the correct information. Even if you’re feeling pressure to get the problem fixed ASAP, your email should sound less like you’re scolding them for a mistake and more like you’re politely letting a good friend know they have some spinach in their teeth.
If your contact is having a busy day, they may not see your message. If you haven’t heard from them in a reasonable amount of time and the need for a correction is urgent, try reaching out via phone. Most online stories get the bulk of their traffic in the hours immediately after they’re published, so a correction is less impactful if it isn’t made until a day or two after the piece goes live.
Your job is stressful enough already, so don’t let a correctable problem freak you out. If you’re able to balance the urgency of the situation with consideration for both your media contact and your client, you can strengthen your relationships with both.