Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
Susie O'Brien's skewering of wannabe Goddess Jodhi Meares' bizarre foibles is a great read in Melbourne's Herald-Sun, but is it fair game?
Maybe not. But it is a wake up call to anyone giving a media interview, a stark reminder that your words, once on the record, can pop up anywhere, often long after the original interview.
Meares' interview first appeared in the February issue of Harpers Bazaar.
In that context confessing to owning 50 pairs of running shoes, waxing lyrical about a beauty regime and even your dependance on IV Vitamin C is par for the course.
Outside of Harpers it doesn't do much to position her as a savvy business woman.
Lifting quotes and putting them in a different context is permissible journalistic practice. But O'Brien really should have referenced the source.
Unattributed, you might assume Meares had given the interview direct to the Herald-Sun. And that would have shown an even greater lack of judgement than her beliefs about lemon juice or her addiction to yoga mats.
When you're being interviewed everything you say is on the record.
So in a business context, while you might be giving an interview on a new product, an off-the-cuff comment on bonuses may crop up in another article on a different day. And that could be career limiting.
Just ask Ken Cowley from News Ltd.
So how do you control your quotes? Well you don't.
The bottom line is that editorial is influential -- because it is independent. The only thing you can control are the words that come out of your mouth.
Here are a few other things you can do to stay safe in a media interview:
1. Prepare an irresistible insight and deliver it early and often. Give the journo what they need and don't make them dig.
2. Stick to the agreed topic and never go off the record (it doesn't exist).
3. Share strong well thought out opinions - then if they are reused in other features you get the glory without the pain.