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Corrections

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My friend called me up and said, “Great quotes in that article, but where did the writer get the idea that you’ve only worked with “several” professional athletes. You’ve worked with dozens. You should ask for a correction!”

“Not on your life,” I said.

“Why aren’t you asking for a correction?” he persisted. “That writer got it wrong.”

“Yes, that national sports columnist got it wrong. (He actually never asked me the question.) But he also gave me half a dozen great quotes. And I have never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth.”

So when should you demand a correction and when should you let sleeping dogs lie?

Little details: I know it may hurt your pride, but if someone misspells your name—you need to let it go. If you want, you can write to the reporter and say, “Thanks so much for the mention. I really appreciate it. No big deal, but my name was misspelled. I only point it out so that you’ll know for the next time you interview me.”

Factual Errors: If a reporter got the facts wrong, especially if you were the person he attributed, you need to call him immediately. Calmly explain his error and ask that he correct it. If he doesn’t—and your reputation really is on the line—then you’ll need to find out who his boss is and have a conversation with her.

Out of Context Errors: This is the trickiest of all corrections. Chances are good that you said what you were quoted as saying BUT the quote was taken out of context. Start by calling up the reporter. Give her the benefit of the doubt and calmly say, “Perhaps our wires got crossed. I didn’t say that in reference to that. I was speaking about this when I said that.”  If you’re lucky, she’ll say, I apologize if I misunderstood you and I’ll see about printing a correction. But most likely she’ll be afraid of getting in trouble and she won’t change it.

FINAL WORD:

If I’ve said this to clients once, I’ve said it a million times: Record every single interview that you do. That way if there’s ever an issue—you’ve got a recording to play back to the reporter and/or his editors. Without it, it’s your word against the reporter’s word. (And fair warning: Even if you have a recording—it may not get you a correction. Some publications refuse to print them, especially more informal online organizations/ bloggers.)

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