What not to say to a reporterPlanning to telephone a reporter? Here are 5 opening lines to avoid (unless your plan is to be like a pit bull from the beginning!):

1. It must’ve been a slow news day! This one really raises the hairs on any reporter’s neck. There are very few “slow” news days. Most reporters or editors put potential stories through a vigorous analysis before they are tackled. If anything, dramatic staff cutbacks are seriously impacting how much a newsroom can cover on any one day.

2. Are you busy? Duh. Think back to all the cutbacks in media over the past several years. Reporters barely have time to sip a coffee before they must rush out the door to their next assignment. Opening a conversation with “Are you busy?” just wasted 10 seconds of a reporter’s time.

3. That’s not a story! Oh, really? You’d better put on your editor’s hat and be prepared to explain your reasoning for lack of news value, lack of interest to the media’s audience demographics, etc.

4. How long have you been a reporter? This is one of the all-time classic opening fails. Young reporters, who have been professionally trained to be a journalist, especially hate this condescending opener. If you are that interested in a reporter’s experience, Google is a wonderful tool. Reporters use it all the time. You should too. Research is a wonderful thing.

5. I didn’t read (or see or hear) the story, but….. Reporters love this one. Before you give all your opinions on a story, at least have the integrity to read it, listen to it, or view it. It’s the only way you’ll be taken seriously from the get-go.