If you're a popular mom blogger, parenting expert or an author, you may one day find yourself in a position where reporters and even TV producers might be interested in featuring you in a segment or news story. However, before you agree to share your story, it's important to be aware of the interview requests you should stay away from at all costs. You see, not every interview request is reason for you to get your name out there. Some publicists will argue that any publicity is good publicity but I beg to differ. If you value your time, then you should evaluate each and every opportunity and wait for the one that will bring out the best in you, your blog, your book or your brand.

So let's take a few scenarios into account. If you're already subscribing to Peter Shankman's HARO (Help A Reporter Out) you will see a treasure trove of opportunities that are delivered to your inbox three times per day. But some of those queries are down right dangerous. I'm not going to out some of the offenders, but here are some tried and true tips to avoid those wolves in sheeps clothing.

The Desperate Family Pitch
Query: Looking for a family who has been hit hard by the economy - experienced a job loss, home foreclosed upon and is in dire straits. If you fit that profile, we want to feature you on national television.
Response: Okay, you may be just that person. You have bills mounting, you're out of a job and you think, hey if I go on TV, maybe I'll find a job and maybe someone will help me out of this mess. Unless the talk show is Dr. Phil or Oprah, our advice is be careful. Most news and talk shows will just want you to share your tale of woe, they'll offer you some empty advice and then send you on your merry way. And all you're left with is a clip of you talking about being in a really bad situation. Resist the urge and pass up this opportunity.

The Bait & Switch
Query: I'm doing a story on the rise of mom bloggers - especially want to talk to a mom blogger who does product reviews and gets paid for them.
Response: If you are getting paid to review products on your blog, please cease and desist - it is completely unethical to get paid to write a product review unless you specify clearly on your blog that the content is sponsored. Just as journalists don't get paid to write reviews, the same goes for your blog. And if someone sends you an Amazon gift card to post a review, then that's not acceptable either unless you disclose that information too. Before you agree to an interview contemplate whether participating will help you or hurt your credibility as a blogger.

The Investigative Report
Query: We're doing an investigative report on work at home scams. - looking for a work at home mom willing to share their story on national television.
Response: Again - investigative report should tip you off. They are looking to feature two sides of the story. So that means that even though your story may be positive, the show is really interested in hearing more from the people who lost their shirt after falling for a make money from home scam. Talk shows look for conflict - if your story is completely positive, then it might be a bit boring for them. However, if you were scammed, got out of the situation and then made a mint by taking the high road, more power to you. Bottom line - stay away from investigative reports unless you're the person blowing whistle!

The Seat Fillers
Query: Looking for moms to sit in our audience to ask questions of our expert or parenting author.
Response: If you have plenty of time on your hands, then feel free to respond and attend every talk show in New York City. However, if you're a parenting expert or author and you think this will be your chance to make your mark on a talk show, think again. Being an audience member will not land you a big break, it'll just cost you about three hours of your time.

That's it for today's PR lesson. Time to go outside and enjoy a picture perfect day. For more of my musings about work, life and everything in between, visit me at Role Mommy.

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Comment by Jennifer St Clair on April 21, 2009 at 9:14pm
Hi ladies,
Really great post. I wanted to add a couple of thoughts as I have worked in PR in the entertainment industry for many years and media trained entrepreneurs. Ask a lot of questions of the person wanting to interview and do your research. One great way to buy yourself time is to tell the reporter that calls that you only have a moment to talk and that you'll have to call them back. Ask all your questions up front, hang up and give yourself a moment of composure or some time to do research and then call them back. You want to be focused on the interview not juggling 5 things at once.

If you accept a TV spot expect a pre-interview. You can tell a lot about the direction of an interview given early questions. If it seems dicey, do more research and you can always back out with grace.

Ask questions, a lot of them. What is the story, who else is going to be on, what questions are you going to ask me, who else are you talking to. If during an interview the reporter goes into a direction you don't like you can guide them back to the topic they initially pitched you. If they continue you can politely say that this is not the interview you agreed to and decline to talk further. If you are really upset or feel railroaded you can contact their editor for an explanation. (which doesn't always do any good but you can preempt the impact of a railroaded piece by posting about your experiences on your blog first).

Again great post and good luck ladies!

Comment by ECHOage on April 21, 2009 at 8:52am
I really appreciate this post as I am defintiely one of those people who needs to step back and think about things before I make the wrong decision.
Thank you.




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