When is the best time to do a friendly, off the record chat with a journalist?
I’d say it is at precisely the time when your lawyer would tell you not to – during the closed period. (That’s the time between the completion of a company’s results and the announcement of those numbers to the stock market.)
Some corporate lawyers will insist that talking to hacks in this period is a complete no-no. Some even seem to think it is against the law.
It’s not, and we should collectively put the lawyers back in their box.
Now, if the chief executive or a flak leaks me the results or discloses precisely what’s in them, that’s a different matter. Especially if I am dim enough to then trade the shares.
But a conversation for context, one that reminds me of things the company has already said on its strategy, is most helpful a bit before results day.
I’m not seeking inside information here. I’m looking for the bits and bobs that put me a bit ahead of the game when that information becomes public. Stuff that makes me wiser, gives me a better understanding of what the CEO is thinking.
As a show of trust between hacks, flaks and executives, those conversations are invaluable.
We should do more of them.