Tip for reporters: Don’t use Gmail at first

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Yesterday I got a request from a reporter for a story she was working for a top ten daily newspaper. I’ve not worked with the reporter before, but I look forward to. It looks like an interesting story angle.

The problem is, she contacted me via her gmail address — not an email address from the newspaper. Unfortunately, given the social engineering tactics of competitive intelligence firms, I can’t assume she actually is who she says she is.

I checked her record in Cision, a database of reporters we use at Sprint. She doesn’t have a phone number listed, nor does she list any email address other than a general mailbox from the paper.

Her note to me didn’t even include a phone number.

It’s likely that it’s a legitimate request, but I’m right to be cautious. Over the last year, we’ve had emails sent to our PR team using spoofed email addresses of real reporters.

I’ll be able to confirm her identity with a phone call or two, but it’s going to slow down our response time. What’s the best way to break this to a reporter you’re just beginning to work with?

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