The CIPR publishes a terrific magazine called Influence - you can read selected articles via the following link influence.cipr.co.uk.
The latest issue sheds light on dealing with prickly journalists - the John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxmans of this world. It includes some wise words (from ex-Daily Mail feature writer @ZoeBrennan1), particularly when it comes to copy approval.
Copy approval crops up regularly with our professional services firms clients. It makes my heart sink as it invariably leads to uncomfortable discussions with both the journalist and client.
But I do have some sympathy. Take law; it is complex and lawyers spend their entire careers focusing on detail. They assume journalists do the same.
Journalists are not always well-versed on a particularly point of law, but they too will want to get it right.
And there lies the small window of opportunity.
The offer to check that the 'law bit' is right is often welcome and even if not, with the exception of very few prickly journalists, is unlikely to offend.
But a word of caution. Whist this will allow you to see what a journalist is writing, it is not an open invitation to change the thrust or context of a report.
But a good PR will, of course, already know that.
A comms adviser can ask for copy approval in exchange for access, but these are tricky waters to navigate successfully with harder-nosed journalists or publications. Beware the journalist who promises to deliver on this. ‘Copy approval’ suddenly becomes ‘quote approval’, with the article taking on a snide slant. I have often seen such agreements simply ‘forgotten’ before the piece goes to press. One hard-hitting ex-Sunday Times journalist tells me: “This is the mark of a naive or inexperienced PR. I would never in a million years give copy approval. Some magazines do it, but the question just flags up to me that the PR has had little contact with big-league journalism.”