Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Q Why Talk to the Press? an Interview with John Hall, ABA's Head of Public Relations

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Q Why Talk to the Press? an Interview with John Hall, ABA's Head of Public Relations

Article excerpt

ABABJ: Many bankers dread--or avoid--talking with the press. Is this a mistake?

John Hall: They need to realize that, while technically they're speaking to a reporter, in reality they're speaking to everyone who reads that paper--customers and potential customers, business leaders and local politicians. Talking to the press can help them get a message out if they go in with an idea of what they want to say. Too often, they wind up answering every reporter question in great detail and don't end up saying what they want to say.

If they're only talking to reporters when the media's calling them, it's generally because something bad has happened. If they can initiate the call and build a relationship, they can see a marked difference for the better. Reporters will appreciate the outreach and have time to talk. When they call you, they're on a tight deadline and want to fit you into the story they've already written.

ABABJ: But what about adversarial reporters?

JH: Reporters sometimes have a point of view or their editors want a story to have tension--the bank versus the victim of a fee or a mistake. But it's an opportunity to get your side of the story across. And it doesn't help you to have the article say, "XYZ bank didn't return our calls." Always ask to call the reporter back. Find out their deadline--and then be sure to call back. In general, sooner is better than later.

The faster you respond, the more chance you have of shaping the story. Use the time to come up with three points you want to make. Answer their questions and move on to the points you want to make. …

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