Posted by: beckbamberger | February 23, 2012

Media, Interviews and Spokespersons Intertwined

Interacting with the media is an exciting opportunity for your client as well as your public relations firm. In order to effectively bring your client’s message across, you must prepare your representative/spokesperson accordingly… but how?

According to Brad Philips brilliant article, “Spokespersons don’t need to prepare for every possible question. They just need to prepare for every type of question.”

What are those types of questions?

1. Questions you don’t know the answer to.
There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know,” but there’s a better way to handle that question during friendly interviews: Tell the reporter what you do know.

2. Questions that call for speculation.

If you answer incorrectly, the quote could be used against you or credibility might be damaged. When in doubt, stay with what you do know. Go ahead and say “Well, although I can’t speculate, I can tell you that….” or try “we have more support for the bill than we’ve ever had before,” like Philips mentions.

3. Questions that ask for your personal opinion.
When you are identified as a spokesperson for a company, group, or organization, there’s no such thing as a personal opinion. The media will identify you as a representative of your organization. Period.

Do not offer a personal opinion. Instead, say, “Well, I’m speaking for the organization, not myself, and what we believe is….”

4. Yes or no questions.

You don’t have to answer on their terms. Instead, say something like: “You know, it’s not so simple. The question isn’t whether or not forecasts are perfect, but whether ours is the most reliable in the marketplace. And the answer, according to three independent studies, is that ours is the most accurate forecast available today.”

5. Third-party questions.

Reporters will often ask you to comment on third parties, usually your competitors or opponents. Instead of taking the bait, answer the question by focusing on your own attributes.

Occasionally, you might want your quote to address your opponent’s flaws. But since that quote will inevitably be the one included in the story, make sure it’s consistent with your overall communications strategy.

6. The repeated question repeated.

Reporters are notorious for asking the same question with slightly different words several times. If you’re asked the same questions repeatedly, remember these two things:

First, stick to your messages. You should alter the specific words of each response, but not the themes of your answers.

Second, watch your tone. You should be as calm the sixth time the reporter asks you a question as you were the first, since the reporter will inevitably use your least flattering response.

To read the article above in its entirety, please see the article.


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