The media is known for putting spokespersons on the spot and asking difficult questions. Especially during a media crisis, having a well-crafted response is vital to a company’s reputation. With good preparation, any spokesperson will be more than adequate to handle the media. Learning how to effectively deal and answer the media correctly takes a lot of time and practice, but here are some tips and tricks on how to answer difficult questions.
- The Bridging Technique
This tried and tested technique reframes a question on a negative topic into a positive one by “bridging” your answers to your key messages and shifting the interview to your agenda. This is done by using the following phrases: “What’s important to remember…”, “They key issue is…” and “Let’s start from the beginning…”. A better technique to answer them is including the target audience in your responses or including a personal element or anecdote to get the ball in your court. For example, “For small businesses looking for investments, what really matters is that…”.
- Avoid the statement “No Comment”
In any situation, saying “no comment” is disastrous. This statement would only prompt more questions, speculation and negative reactions from the media. Instead of saying “no comment”, there are other ways to deflect the question. One of them includes directing the media to an expert or colleague who is able to speak about the issue. Otherwise, simply explain why you are unable to answer the question, such as confidentiality or legal issues.
- Asking for clarifications
Another technique to answer difficult questions is asking the media to rephrase their questions or clarifying what they are asking. Not only does this give time for you to think of a suitable answer, but the second question is often more concise and to the point, helping you understand the reason behind the question.
- Practice, practice, practice!
Before going in front of the media, it is important to define your key messages and preparing your answers. Be prepared to answer difficult questions by having contingency responses ready. This not only helps to keep your composure when things get tough, but helps you with your confidence even before stepping into the interview. Doing mock interviews and training the spokespeople are also ways to ensure you are prepared to be in control of the media interview and your key messages are conveyed.
Media Crisis Management is a 2-day course designed for personnel who must act as a spokesperson for an organization during a crisis. Participants will learn how to prepare for interviews, deliver press statements, and manage questions effectively under pressure. This course is intended for beginner-intermediate level spokesperson. For more information, please visit us at http://www.opuskinetic.com/training or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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