Assume You’re On The Record When Talking To The Press

Assume You’re On The Record When Talking To The Press



Many professionals do not understand the rules that govern giving information to the press. If you have sensitive information you want to confidentially convey to a reporter or editor, we recommend you get an experienced media relations professional to help you do it. If you dont have the funds, or time, to do that, heres how Editor-in-Chief Aric Press of The American Lawyer recently explained on the record versus on background versus off the record conversations with reporters. Prior to being named editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer, he was a senior editor at Newsweek:[1]

“When I talk to one of your lawyers, I assume everythings on the record. Its no good calling me two hours later and to tell me that everything was off the record. This happens all the time. If you establish up front that were talking ‘on background,’ this means the reporter can use the material but not attribute it to you. If youre talking ‘off the record’ it means they cant use the material unless they discover it through another source. But the assumption is that, like in a court room, everything is on the record.”



  1. Bob Weiss is president of Alyn-Weiss and Associates, Inc., a Denver-based marketing consulting group which has worked with both corporate, transactional and defense firms and contingent fee practices nationwide for more than 20 years.

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