We always counsel our clients to be careful and conscientious about what they say to the press and when they say it. We believe it is never a good idea to share sensitive information with media and then hastily use "off the record" lingo--as if that is going to somehow keep the information from being shared. What we do counsel our clients about here is the following: always assume that with a reporter "off the record" means "ON the record." Juicy tidbits of information are exactly what press seek in order to break a news story. Today, Samantha Power, a professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a now-former scenior advisor to the Obama campaign, made deriding comments during an interview in London with The Scotsman, a Scottish newspaper. Prior to the press interview she had actually agreed that everything said during the interview could be printed.
In our opinion, it is unwise to divulge sensitive, confidential or questionable information and then quickly interject "oh that was off the record" during any interview. The use of this popular phrase hardly means that the reporter is under any obligation to agree to your unexpected request. In the case with Samantha Powers, the reporter did his job and ran with his piece and this started off a chain reaction leading to a big political bruhaha.
We recommend a simple rule of thumb to follow: if you do not want to see it in writing, then don't share "off the record" comments with the press.