Author Publicity: What’s “On The Record?”
written by Julie Parise
When it comes to author publicity, interviews with reporters is a great goal – and it’s important to be prepared for each interaction. As a journalist myself, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is about the difference between what’s “on the record,” what’s “off the record” and what’s “on background.”
If you’re looking for author publicity, you’ll want to learn the difference between these three terms before you start doing podcast, television or print interviews. These terms all have different meanings, and sometimes, they mean different things to different reporters. If you’re an author or an entrepreneur seeking publicity, it’s important to know the difference between all three.
Here’s What Authors Need To Know
A closer look at each of these terms and why they’re important to learn for author publicity:
On The Record: If you are interviewing with a journalist, you can assume that your comments are “on the record” unless specifically stated otherwise. In other words, anything you say to this person can be published and attributed to you in print (or online, in a podcast, etc) – even if it’s just small talk. While you want to become comfortable with the person you’re interviewing with and build a rapport, just keep in mind that everything is fair game, even if you think the conversation is relaxed.
Off The Record: “Off the record” is an agreement between interviewer and interviewee that the statements following will not be used in any article, publication, podcast interview, etc. If you wish to say something “off the record,” this has to be stated before the comments you wish to make. The interviewer needs to also acknowledge and agree to keep the comments off the record. This is tricky when it comes to author publicity, as “off the record” agreements still require an element of trust. Our suggestion: Assume everything is always on the record. During an interview, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want published.
On background: “On background” is an agreement between journalist and interviewee that the journalist can use the information provided by the interviewee for further research and within the story, but that information will not be attributed to the interviewee. This is another gray area with which any author or entrepreneur seeking publicity will want to be careful.
So there you have it. It’s likely you won’t have to worry about “on the record” conversations when you first start out with author publicity, but as you continue to grow in your media interactions, it’s important to be prepared.
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