OLD Media Moves

Ask Talking Biz News…about an embargoed interview

October 18, 2010

Here is the fourth installment of a new weekly feature from Talking Biz News, where a business reporter or editor asks a question related to reporting or writing about a business news topic.

Here is this week’s question:

I’m new to my beat, and I got a call from a public relations person at a company on my beat, offering an interview with its CFO a day before the earnings are released so that he can explain what the earnings will be and why. Should I have done the interview?

Talking Biz News responded:

Frankly, I’ve never heard of a company doing this, but after thinking about it, I don’t see any downside. Talking to the CFO allows you to prepare for the earnings, and to get your questions answered about the earnings in advance without having to scramble on the day they’re released when every other reporter who covers the company is also calling. Of course, the company may be offering the same deal to other reporters on its beat.

Don’t worry about Regulation Fair Disclosure, as it doesn’t apply to business journalists. The only thing you need to worry about is that the information you gained from the CFO is accessed by someone in your newsroom and they use that information to trade in the company’s stock before the earnings are released. Keep the information as a closely guarded secret.

The reporter, after consulting with her editor, jumps at the offer. It allowed her to cover the earnings more thoroughly and with better authority. The company, meanwhile, got to expose its CFO to the new reporter and apparently got a more thorough story about its earnings.

What do you think? As a business journalist, would you accept this offer, giving you the company’s earnings results before anyone else? As a PR person, would you make this offer to a business reporter?

If you’ve got a business reporting question you’d like to pose to Talking Biz News, send an e-mail to croush@email.unc.edu.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.