Three Media Rules of Engagement

I received the following from Urvaksh Karkaria last evening.

Hi Lance,

I'm writing you regarding some of your tweets today that suggested I don't respect off-the-record conversations with sources.

I have been doing this business for more than a decade and realize you never burn a source. You and I have had several off-the-record chats and I have not once made anything we talked about public. I take my job seriously and earned credibility by being discrete, when needed.

I have made it clear in the AtlanTech post why I posted the email. Am happy to chat further with you about this.

I have, and will continue to treat our relationship, with the greatest respect.
And yes, you may publish this email, if you like:)

Urvaksh Karkaria

The tweets that Urvaksh referred to were in response to an article on the Atlanta Business Chronicle blog in which he published an email from Sanjay Parekh.  Yes, I was surprised that he printed the email. I think that he could have accomplished the same thing by merely stating why he would not be attending Startup Riot.  Urvaksh has always been discrete and honorable in his dealings with me. He has never violated the rules of engagement.

Yes there are rules of engagement when communicating with professional media people.  You can even get trained in such things.  And I have been through a lot of such training.  Here are three things that anyone dealing with media needs to know.

1.  Two key phrases when dealing with the media are "off the record" and "on background".  Off the record means that whatever you say or type will not be part of a story.  It is being given confidentially to provide context but you can not be quoted or attributed.  On background means means that the gist of the conversation may be reported but that you will not be identified as a source and direct quotes will not be used.  And here's the catch.  The reporter has to positively affirm that you are in either of these modes or the rules do not apply.  You say "on background?"  Reporter says "yes."  Then you can proceed.  I have actually had such exchanges on twitter.

2.  Never ever put anything in an email that you would not want to see
published.  Proof your email correspondence with this eye.  I would go
so far as you should actually treat any email this way.  And even if I were off the record or on background I would not provide information via written communications.  I would have a conversation.

3.  The rules of engagement in one above does not apply to bloggers, paid or not.

What others rules do executives and entrepreneurs need to know?

February 14, 2009  |  Comments  |  Tweet  |  Posted in Marketing