“Off-the-record” conversations don’t exist anymore. With the acceptance of social media as a business and marketing tool, everyone is now an editor — an editor of a blog, an editor of a Facebook page or an editor of a Twitter account. And editors aren’t limited to media representatives for TV stations, radio programs, magazines or newspapers; editors are our family, our friends and ourselves. Because we are all editors, it is more important than ever to remember that we are all always “on the record.”
In the marketing and PR business, it’s more important than ever that we counsel each other on how to be successful as we navigate the world of social media. The majority of editors are by no means out to harm anyone. But things can be said that don’t seem harmful to them that are sensitive internally or to our clients.
You are the expert
The goal Todd and I have in our business is to present ourselves, as well as everyone in our clients’ organizations, as experts. Because of the nature of our business, we seek frequent meetings with editors, via Twitter, Facebook, email, phone and in person. Sometimes these meetings are formal, but more often, they are very informal, friendly conversations. It is important that everyone — from the CEO to salespersons in the field — remember that they are always on record, no matter who they are talking to and no matter what the setting.
Editors might not always be taking notes or recording the conversation, but they are always listening to what you are saying and the tone you’re using when you say it — and they are mentally documenting it all. It is important to remember that when taken out of the context of the conversation, comments often “sound” different from the spirit in which they were originally said when they appear in print.
Because this is often the case, it’s so important to clarify, choose your words carefully and be sure of the accuracy of your comments. It is good to get clarification from the editor about how your comments might be used.
Remember your words and actions reflect directly their opinion and perception of you personally and your company as a whole. To be successful when talking with an editor, always be conscious of what you’re saying — don’t let your guard down.
It is good to ask yourself these questions:
- Is what I’m saying consistent with my company’s mission?
- Do I have permission to share this information?
If the answer is no to either of these questions, be sure to clarify during that conversation that the views you are expressing are yours, not necessarily those of the company.