Great spokespersons know that the ONLY thing you have any control over in a media interview is what comes out of your mouth. When you sit down with a reporter you have no control over how prepared the reporter is, what questions the reporter asks, how the reporter’s editors might change the story, what the headline will be, what quotes of yours the reporter will use (if any), who else a reporter will interview, or what overall angle a reporter will take in the story.
So what do you do? Accept this and govern yourself accordingly.
Focus on your message and how you deliver it. Your job as a spokesperson is to deliver memorable and useful soundbites, interesting data points, and compelling key messages over and over again, with sincerity and energy, no matter what the reporter asks.
This is shockingly hard. A lifetime of training conspires against you. From your first day of nursery school you were taught that when someone asks you a question you should politely answer it. But the reporter is not your school teacher and you are NOT an obedient third grader.
If you patiently wait for the reporter to ask you the perfect question so you can deliver your perfect message you will fail. The perfect question will never come. It’s your job to pivot from what the reporter asks to what you want to talk about.
Politely answering whatever questions you get in an interview can be a wasted opportunity or it can be a PR disaster. Help your company. Learn to pivot.
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