Friday, March 11, 2016
A New Paradigm? For Some, Maybe, Not For All
Category: Public Relations
Tags: Media Training, Public Relations, Amy Grossman, Interview Process
Let’s face it, this year’s presidential run for the White House has been like no other in history nor has the media coverage surrounding it. Never before have we seen candidates dictate what media they will and will not talk to and what issues they will and will not discuss. Couple that with an egregious lack of non-answers by all candidates and the press feeding the frenzy by not insisting on substantive responses, and you’ve got one massive, chaotic media circus.
While this year’s media coverage is entertaining, exasperating, frustrating and oftentimes absurd, it has certainly broken all the mainstream rules of dealing with the press—not to mention—the rules of basic decorum. And, it may become the paradigm for all election coverage in the future. If this is to be the new media prototype in the political arena, one thing remains clear, this irreverent behavior should never – ever -- be mimicked in business . . . period.
When it comes to addressing the media for any reason, executives and business leaders have a responsibility to their clients, customers, employees, and stockholders to be honest, open and accountable for their words and actions, no matter the consequences. Being disrespectful to a reporter, lying, or exaggerating the truth is never appropriate and can actually prohibit you from building, or worse, restoring trust with the press and among your constituents.
So how do you make the most of your media interview?
Whether you have proactively sought to speak to the media or are reacting to a request from a reporter about a specific issue, your first job is to prepare!
- Learn about the reporter and issues that he/she covers.
- Think about the issues you want to discuss and boil them down into three or four main points you wish to convey in a concise manner.
- Visualize your answer and how the quote may look in print or sound on the radio, TV, video or on social media.
Once you have your game plan, some other things to keep in mind are:
- Speak clearly, in simple terms and don’t use jargon.
- Satisfy all questions asked, and steer to your key points.
- Say “I don’t know” rather than make something up.
- Be respectful of the interviewer and the deadlines.
And, then, of course, there are things you should never do during a media interview:
- Be combative or argue with a reporter. You won’t win.
- Talk off the record.
- Say “no comment.” This implies guilt. Have a simple statement prepared.
- Let your guard down with a reporter.
So even if the rules have changed for some, let’s remember that what is conveyed by the media really does matter in the court of public opinion. With that in mind, your job is to nail the interview and make the most out of every opportunity you get to tell your story from your point of view.