Photo: Business Insider
Here’s what happened.We reported a scoop about a startup. That startup’s in-house PR denied the story. Swore up and down it wasn’t true.
We updated our post to reflect the PR rep’s comments. (Fortunately, we stuck to our guns and said “We’ll see!”)
Then, today, that same startup made an announcement confirming our original scoop.
This kind of thing happens often.
CEOs or other people who actually know what’s going on lie to their press person, and that press person carries on the message to a reporter.
It puts PR people – and reporters like us – into tough positions.
For the PR rep, the questions are: How do you know your client – or, if you’re in house, your CEO – is telling the truth. Does it matter?
For reporters like us, the question is: Why should we ever trust a press person, who is just being told something that may or may not be true?
Obviously, we’d like to always have reliable enough sourcing for a story that we don’t need to worry about what a press person says. But even then, it’s very hard to publish a report that goes against what an official company spokesperson says.
Thing is, a PR rep’s reputation is all they have, so if we were them, we would careful to be nuanced about what I truly know and do not.