You are always ON.

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Yes, you’re always ON. It’s a lesson many media advisors and spokespeople, sadly, learn the hard way.

When it comes to working with the media, whether a conversation, email or interview is declared ‘on’ or ‘off’ the record - it pays to approach every interaction as if you are ON.

Always being ON doesn’t mean being unapproachable, insincere or dodging conversations. It simply means always being aware of what you say, how you behave and how your actions could be interpreted by the media or the public.

In fact, I’ve found it to be solid, everyday career advice - no matter your industry!

Journalists can be taking notes, recording comments or snapping photos at any time. There are many, many instances when I worked as a spokesperson that I experienced the reality of this first-hand.

Take photos, for one. Regional newspapers would frequently publish a thumbnail file picture of me next to an opinion piece, statement or commentary - and I would have a hard time recalling where and when the photo was taken. 

No pictures were controversial. They were all taken at press calls, photo shoots or interviews - but it could have been years prior. It was the right of the newspaper to use them - but I was unaware of the exact photos they had on file.

If you’re working in media - it pays to always assume journalists are keeping a file of you, and your spokespeople. 

This is great advice for press conferences too. Always assume the cameras are rolling and recording audio - even during set-ups, filming walkies or two-shots. 

We can all recall instances of leaked audio, recorded when spokespeople thought the microphones were off - and in some cases, it can be very damaging to their reputation.

Protect yourself, and the company you represent - by being disciplined and adhering to the rule of always being ON - no matter the situation.

It’s wise to work, live and act as if we’re always ON. Because, in my view, we always are!

Katie Clift

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