Q. What do I do if the media wants to talk to me?
A. Start by asking yourself what you think when you read or hear that the subject of a story – particularly a story in which others are critical of the person or the person’s organization – says “no comment” or that the person “couldn’t be reached for comment.”
If you’re like most people, your immediate response is “guilty.” Or that this person must have something to hide. Do you want to be judged as guilty or deceitful?
At Hennes, we say there’s always something you can say, and should say. So, yes, take that interview, hold that public meeting and attend the organization’s town hall. But we don’t recommend you go into any media interview, Q&A with employees, customers or shareholders or any similar challenge without plenty of preparation, particularly in preparing the messages that you want to deliver about your organization.
Your messages should be concise soundbites that portray the truth about the situation you’re facing and that provide context and understanding of that situation. Remember the core values your organization has worked so hard to develop and embrace? Use them when you compose these messages.
Here’s something else we say at Hennes: If it’s legal, moral and ethical to answer the question, then answer the question. Don’t dodge, don’t spin and, unless you want a much bigger problem, don’t ever lie. So, absolutely, answer the question, but then bridge immediately to one of your messages.
Being interviewed is difficult. And even if you’ve done it before, we’ll wager you haven’t given as many interviews as that reporter has conducted. Holding Q&A sessions with employees is difficult. It’s a skill that you’ll get better at with preparation and practice – and if you need help with that, we’re ready.
You have a story to tell. The people that care about you the most are waiting to hear it. Tell it.
Got a question about crisis communications, issues management or reputation management? We’ve got the answers. Send your question to [email protected]