Five Reasons The Reporter Didn't Quote You
You just finished a media interview. You think you nailed it.
But when the story comes out, your name is nowhere to be found. You feel rejected by the reporter, who clearly didn’t deem you worthy enough to be included in the story.
Few things frustrate media spokespersons more than providing the reporter with loads of information only to be omitted from the final story. But it may not have been your fault.
Here are five reasons the reporter may have dropped you from the story:
1. Storyline May Have Changed: The reporter may have started with a certain story in mind, but shifted to a different storyline upon learning new information. There’s little you can do differently in this case: reporters should be open to changing the story as they dig into it, and that means that quality sources sometimes get left behind.
What you can do differently next time: Not much. Chalk this one up to “it happens.”
2. May Have Upgraded The Source: Let’s say you’re a spokesperson for a government agency. If the reporter gets access to the agency’s director prior to publication, you’re probably going to get dropped from the story. Same thing happens if you work for a mid-size group specializing in healthy oceans. If you’re a no-name spokesperson and I suddenly get through to a Cousteau, I’m probably going to quote him instead.
What you can do differently next time: Not much, other than continuing to build your name recognition as an expert through smaller- and medium-sized media outlets.
3. May Have Run Out of Space: If a newspaper story gets cut to 300 words, the reporter will have precious little space for quotes. Same for radio and television – if a story gets cut to a 30-second “anchor read,” your quote is gone. That’s not necessarily an indication that you did something wrong.
What you can do differently next time: Getting dropped from a story due to lack of space MAY be an indication that you didn’t give the reporter anything useful. If the reporter ended up quoting somebody else in the piece, you might want to question why you were dropped.
4. You May Not Have Said Anything Useful: Anyone who’s served as a reporter has had the nightmare interview in which a spokesperson refuses to say anything even remotely interesting. Even experienced reporters with a few hundred interviewing tricks strike out sometimes, leaving them without a single quotable phrase.
What you can do differently next time: Pass the interview off to a colleague. Get media training. Develop more quotable stories, statistics, and sound bites (here’s a tool to help you). If none of those things work, consider a career in accounting or engineering.
5. You May Have Said Useful Things In An Unquotable Way: It’s possible that you had important things to say, but buried them in technical jargon, unending sentences, or process words. If the reporter paraphrases you instead of quoting you, there’s a chance you fell into this trap.
What you can do differently next time: Develop more quotable stories, statistics, and sound bites (here’s a tool to help you). Practice delivering the most quotable parts of your answer at the beginning of your answer instead of burying it somewhere in the middle.
Related: How To Select a Media Trainer