Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Dead Man Talking: 4 Sure-Fire Ways to Shoot Yourself in the Foot during News Interviews

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Dead Man Talking: 4 Sure-Fire Ways to Shoot Yourself in the Foot during News Interviews

Article excerpt

Executives all over the country repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot when dealing with the news media. It's a wonder America's corporations can do any useful work amid the ricocheting ramifications.

Here are four of the many ways that we've observed executives engaging in foot-shooting--and some suggestions for methods to turn deadly force into a force for improved media coverage.

1. Failing to prepare for the interview

Going into an interview before arming yourself appropriately is like going into battle without a helmet.

Prepare key messages that you want to be certain to get into your answers, messages to which you will return if you're asked questions that you can't answer or don't want to answer.

Prepare fact sheets, backgrounders, visuals and/or other materials that will help the reporter do a better job of transmitting your message.

And consider in advance all the tough questions you can think of that the reporter might ask you.

2. Equating the interview with the story

Executives invariably are puzzled at how the hour-long friendly interview with the sympathetic reporter ended up as a single quote in a largely negative story.

These executives are making the mistake of equating their interview with the reporter's story.

Your interview is only one element of the story. The reporter may talk with opponents, competitors, customers, employees and industry analysts. He could go back to previously published articles on the topic .that had errors in them and possibly inadvertently repeat those errors. The news outlet will develop graphics that shape the tone of the story.

To have better control over the final article, you should work to "orchestrate" the story. If your opponents' views are well known, refute them during your own interview.

Provide the reporter with your own list of satisfied customers and with employees whom he can interview. …

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