Fend off tough questions from media

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

media interviewBefore you give a live media interview, prepare to answer questions on your terms. Rehearse what you’ll say if you’re challenged to defend yourself or your organization.

Media coaches often warn executives not to evade inquiries or mutter, “No comment.” Instead, acknowledge unwelcome questions and reframe them to fit your agenda.

Preface your answer by using phrases such as, “Your question raises a critical point” or “While I’m not at liberty to discuss that, what I can tell you is ....” Then transition to the point you want to make. Experts call this the block-and-bridge technique.

If you’re pressed to give a yes-or-no answer, say, “It depends, but the real issue is ....”

If an interviewer uses loaded language (“How do you explain your firm’s history of lying?”), reject the premise of the question. Say, “Our firm has a history of operating with integrity” and go from there.

By establishing your own positive premise, you avoid defensiveness. That’s better than replying to attacks with denials (“I haven’t lied”), and digging yourself into a deeper hole.

Your expertise and knowledge can work against you in media interviews. Beware of trying to overexplain your point or provide too much granular data. Questioners will interrupt you if you get mired in details.

Before the interview, practice giving tight, targeted responses. Pick succinct facts or examples you want to include. Omit everything else, even if it’s tempting to share additional information.

— Adapted from “Advisors give media training tips for live interviews,” Gayle Goodman, O’Dwyer’s.

Online resource: For more help on “crisis communication” read "5 steps to better crisis communications."

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