Three tips for handling a tough media interview
The hot seat is an uncomfortable place to be. With the right preparation, these tips will help you survive the experience and communicate your points effectively.
1. Land your message early
No matter how confronting, the first question is usually your best opportunity to deliver your message. Be ready to take it. Follow-up questions are likely to become more narrowly focused and harder to bridge away from: it is far better to stake out your territory at the outset.
2. Match your message to the issue
If you’re facing a quality or service issue, there’s little point in trying to steer your responses towards a new product offer. "Look over here" just doesn't work. Your message needs to be aligned to the issue at hand, otherwise you will be accused of avoiding or evading the question. Make sure the message shows an understanding of your audience’s concerns.
3. Keep your responses short
Point. Reason. Example. Point. It’s that simple. Long or waffling answers frequently get spokespeople into trouble. When in doubt, re-state your most important message and stop. An interview may look like a conversation but it’s not: don’t speak just to be polite. Shorter, message-focused responses can help you maintain a measure of control.
And remember, stay calm and don’t take it personally. Hostile or provocative questions are asked for a reason: it’s only your answers that count.