The Media and You

Your advantages:

  • You decide whether to do the interview
  • You control length of the interview
  • You are the expert
  • You decide what to say and how to say it

Rules to remember:

  • The microphone is always on
  • Don’t be defensive
  • Maintain your composure
  • Avoid sarcasm
  • Don’t repeat a negative in your answer
  • Don’t answer hypothetical questions
  • Reject false premises in questions
  • Avoid hostility and anger when answering
  • Tell the truth
  • Know when to stop talking
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use metaphors and examples
  • Be confident but not combative
  • Never say “no comment”
  • Be responsive but bridge back to messages
  • Everything is apt to be on the record
  • There is no such thing as a “conversation” with a reporter

Reporters expect:

  • Responsive and accurate information
  • Clear, concise statements
  • A measure of respect
  • Not to be blamed for poor treatment by another reporter
  • Not to be asked to hold back information
  • Not to be used for blatant commercialism
  • To be called back

Preparing for your appearance:

  • Determine your objective
  • Anticipate the questions
  • Review your key messages
  • Rehearse your key messages—be conversational

Bridge from questions to your messages:

  • Be responsive
  • Listen closely
  • Don’t repeat falsehoods or accusations. Say: “No,” “Not true,” or “That’s not the case.”
  • Then use verbal bridges such as these: “… but the truth is…” “…but the real question is…” “…but the real point is…”

Message building blocks:

  • Make clear distinctions, not equivocation
  • Use illustrative language, not jargon
  • Use emotion when appropriate
  • Address public or human concerns
  • Be truthful
  • Be confident

For all broadcast, print, or personal encounters:

  • Be energetic and speak up
  • Keep your voice strong by breathing in plenty of air when needed, not just at the end of long sentences
  • Use relaxation techniques beforehand
  • Use gestures and other body language effectively, and remember to smile
  • Remember to pause for effect
  • Stay on message