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Media training: when correspondents bully you - pr



A associate whose company is often in the media draw attention to a moment ago told me a story about her boss. Her boss, let's call her Susan, is on the leadership team for a lobbying group that represents a to some extent unpopular industry.

Susan was interviewed a few months ago by Dateline NBC Correspondent Lea Thompson about a topic that could make her association look bad. She knew she'd have to key tough questions.

Nervous about axiom a little awkward about her organization, Susan cautiously arranged for the interview. She industrial her main messages, attention about the worst questions she could maybe face and adept her responses.

When the interview began, Susan stayed on message. Thompson tried to throw her off, but Susan wouldn't budge. Thompson hard-pressed and prodded, difficult to get Susan to say a little - no matter which - more controversial. She wouldn't.

That's when Ms. Thompson employed the old journalistic trick of frustrating to bully her subject. In center of the interview, Ms. Thompson asked the cameraman to stop recording, scolded Susan for not answering her questions, and asked for a five close break.

And my sources tell me that this is not the first time Ms. Thompson has used this tactic - she's used it ahead of with at least one other candidate from a assorted organization.

An inexperienced representative would have been flustered. He or she would have returned from the break with a touch another to say. Not Susan. She knew that Dateline NBC was basically a instrument to a bigger listeners and that she had full be in command of of her own words.

It worked. When the interview aired, Susan's quotation marks were right on message. By sticking to her communication and consistently repeating her most crucial points, she ensured that Dateline's millions of audience heard the most crucial clothes she had to say.


The trainees I work with often amazement if they wouldn't have more credibility if they acknowledged a few of their own weaknesses all through an interview, as an alternative of being effortlessly on message. Doing so is intermittently appropriate, but here's why it's dangerous:

1. The come back with you give which points out your own shortcomings will be the one that is used. Your other answers - plus your categorical points - will be condensed out.

2. It is not your job to be your own critic - that is the job of the reporter and your opponents quoted in the piece. In order for a truly "balanced" piece, you have to be affirmative en route for manually - your opponents will contentedly point out your imperfections for you.


I'd like to raise three cautions with this approach. First, frustrated newspapers will irregularly edit all together clips of the guest repeating the same key over and over again and will air it to show the guest's evasiveness. It's a modus operandi that can brutally dent a guest's credibility, but is easy to evade - if you acquire compound ways of axiom the same thing and aid your mail with certain examples.

Second, this attempt works well if you're defending an ideology or point of view you truly accept as true in. But if you or your association did a bit wrong, it's not good enough. You'll need to admit your faults, apologize, and clear your accomplishment plan to make it better.

And third, this approximate worked as the interview was taped, not live. If the curriculum was live, the consultation would have abruptly tired of Susan's antics. But since she knew that Dateline NBC tends to use short sound bites in its place of longer interviews, she was assertive the interview would never see her repetitive messaging technique.


In the end, both women performed their jobs admirably. Ms. Thompson led a tough journalistic investigation, exposing an business that maybe deserved the scrutiny. And, as for Susan? She represented her organization's point of view perfectly.

Brad Phillips is the come to grief and head of Phillips Media Relations. He was formerly a journalist for ABC News and CNN, and headed the media relations administrative area for the back chief environmental group in the world.

For more in sequence and to sign up for free monthly media relations and media education e-tips, visit http://www. PhillipsMediaRelations. com


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