Have a high-profile executive who called me very early this morning in a panic. A friend of a friend, I had seen the full page story that a local tabloid newspaper ran about him, and understood instantly why he was calling.
He explained “The story isn’t true as I explained to the reporter. He called me, we spoke for a while he didn’t tell me he was running a story… and then I went back to work.” Well, low and behold, today for him isn’t a regular work day as the story ran.
I know the reporter who wrote the story, and called him. He’s a fair person, and explained that he had a source who spoke on the record and when the executive responded it made a good news story, “He said, she said.”
Reporters aren’t the arbiters of truth – and if someone says something interesting it could be newsworthy, whether true or not. A reporter’s job is to report news – and they don’t give lie detector tests.
Media is also more likely to trust my truth than your truth – because as CEO of 5WPR I deal with media daily and we have a relationship. In this case, the CEO had ample evidence to show his side of the story – and that the accusation made wasn’t true. He didn’t want to provide it to the reporter. When I shared the proof with the reporter he instantly told me if I would have showed it he wouldn’t have run the story as his source wouldn’t have been credible.
He now will not be running the planned follow-up story – and of course our entire conversation was off the record.
The damage is done, and clearly this executive has learned the lesson of not speaking to the media without a PR pro managing it, but it never ceases to amaze me why high-powered people don’t let PR people do their jobs.