You are in a crisis. It may be full blown or simply a confrontational
interview. You saw it coming, so you went through media training,
prepared your points, and practiced. our interview is going well
and you're proud of yourself - until the reporter asks, "Can
you prove that?" What do you do?
Rule #1 - During a media interview, we should
never make a statement unless we can back it up.
Great. So you tell the reporter that you can absolutely prove it.
The reporter then says, "Okay, let's see." How do you
present your documentation?
Rule #2 - Keep it brief.
If it is the Starr Report, with its juicy bits of information,
lengthy is okay. But you aren’t talking about the Starr Report.
Your documentation should highlight the key points, just as you
do during your verbal interview. Highlight in yellow or use bullet
points. A good example is a late-breaking court order. If it comes
down at 4:30 pm, and the reporter wants to go live at five, you
will be helping the reporter, and your message will be clearer,
if you can point him/her to the real meaning.
Rule #3 - Keep it simple.
If you're talking to a business reporter and your stock price is
the issue, charts come in handy. The visuals must be simple. Don't
expect the reporter to use your exact visual aid, though. Most of
the time it will be reworked to match the broadcast outlet or print
Rule #4 - Don’t just insist that something
is right. Show them!
While researching interviews for my media training clients, I have
heard more than a few times the phrases, "Cause I said so!"
and "I'm telling you that's the way it is!"
This may seem like a forceful response to a cynical reporter, and
you may think that it will convince the public to side with you.
However, there is nothing worse than to hear such a response only
to have the reporter say, "We checked, and found just the opposite
is true." Your forceful response has made you look bad.
Rule #5 - "May I see that, please?"
There have been instances when reporters will tell you, during
an interview, that they have in their hand a document that proves
something. Always ask to see it! After all, if you should back it
up, so should they.
As I preach to my clients, no matter who is talking, if it can't
be backed up, it shouldn't be said.
1. Document it.
2. Keep it brief.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Don’t just insist.
5. Ask the reporter to show you.
Contact Al Rothstein for spokesperson
training, media relations, and crisis communication.
Al Rothstein Media Services, Inc. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Toll-Free Phone: 1- 800-453-6352.
See case histories at www.rothsteinmedia.com.
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