For many executives and experts, nothing is scarier than facing an interview with a reporter. In this age of “gotcha” journalism, controlling the interview and delivering appropriate messages clearly and succinctly is critical. Linhart Public Relations media trainers can help you so you don’t get tricked into saying the wrong things and instead focus on staying on message. The result can be the treat of fair media coverage. Here are four tips:
1) Use the Three Cs:
- Concise. Typically, your comments will be edited to be very short—just a short sound bite or sentence. Being concise with your comments allows you to communicate your key messages with less risk of losing important details in the editing process.
- Conversational. Avoid insider jargon and policy-laden language. Use words and descriptions that the average reader/viewer will understand. When you must use jargon, explain it briefly. If you must, it is ok to ask the reporter, “Are you familiar with the term…”
- Credible. Reporters are likely to use information they get from you only if they deem it as credible. Speak with authority, but avoid making claims you can’t support. If you are unsure about something, offer to follow up with the reporter on the point with an email or follow-up phone call.
2) Never say “no comment.” It makes you look as if there is something to hide. If there is a reason you can’t discuss something, explain it to the reporter. And instead, think of what you can say. One example: “I can’t speculate about that rumor, but what I can tell you is I think our organization is on the right track…”
3) Don’t try to answer hypothetical questions. Never guess or speculate.
4) Be aware of the tone of your voice and body language, including facial expressions. Crossing your hands across your chest may suggest you are not being forthcoming. Nodding your head can be construed as agreeing with what a reporter is asking. Keep the right level of energy, passion or compassion in your voice to match the situation.