In its February-March 2005 issue, PR Influences published an article giving the following 25 commandments of media relations from the “Dartnell’s Public Relations Handbook” (Dilenschneider, ed, 1996, Dartnell Corp.) of US PR executive Robert L. Dilenschneider:
1. Do not intentionally lie to, nor mislead, the media. “Truth is the best damage control.”
2. Do not release unauthorized information. Neither should you issue a “no comment” because this would often be construed as a confirmation of suspicions. Rather, explain why you are still unable to give a better response.
3. Do not divulge anything to a media person - verbal or written, on or off the record - that you do not want to be made public.
4. Do not work for an organization with an idea, product or activity you find morally or ideologically objectionable.
5. Do not issue “no news” media releases because this turns off the media and backfires when you already have a newsworthy release.
6. Always return media phone calls as promptly as possible.
7. Do not “cross” a media person under any circumstances, but do correct errors in reporting.
8. Find out specific media deadlines and do not call a media person near his or her deadline except for a major breaking story.
9. Do not ask to approve a story before publication/broadcast, but do make the most of it when it is offered.
10. Do not make a pitch to a publication without reading it and understanding its style, editorial needs and audience. The same goes for other media.
11. Do not ask for a list of questions before an interview, but you may ask about the range of topics to be covered.
12. Do be persistent in pitching a story, but never insistent and offensive.
13. Do not send a pitch letter inflated with obvious information already known to media.
14. Do not ask for an advanced copy of a story set for publication/broadcast unless previously volunteered by media.
15. Do be creative and try new approaches in media relations.
16. Do not make false promises of exclusive access to the organization.
17. Do not issue media releases that attempt to bury negative news.
18. Do update your media lists quarterly.
19. Do not promise make false promises to your boss or organization.
20. Do not address a media person by his or her first name on the phone or in written communication unless you have already known each other by phone or in person.
21. Do attend client-media interviews and make introductions, listen and learn. Do ask permission before recording the interview.
22. Do ensure some pre-interview training and briefing before taking part in an interview or booking a company representative to do so.
23. Do not denigrate your competitor because this makes you look unprofessional.
24. Do make your media releases media-friendly by double-spacing, printing on only one side of the paper, putting the news in the headline, including a home phone number to call beyond office hours, and ensuring that the contact/s listed are available when called.
25. Do read all possible media to be well-informed.
These are timely and timeless tips, indeed.