interview tips

Five strategies for awkward press interview questions

A good press interview should serve your business well in terms of branding but it can go wrong. What do you do, in advance of the event and during it, to make sure things stay under control? Here are my top five tips:

  1. Accept that it’s not completely within your control. The journalist, blogger or other influencer doesn’t work for you so a control-freak approach isn’t going to help. Offer us the tools to build you a good piece of engagement and we might well respond, but we’re not your marketing department.
  2. Before the interview, make a list of questions you think we’re likely to ask and prepare an answer. Make another list of questions you’d rather we didn’t ask and prepare answers for those, too. Forewarned is forearmed and that sort of thing.
  3. If you can’t tell us something, say so. “That’s company confidential”, “We don’t disclose that as a matter of policy” and other honest declarations are fine. We might not like them but if we don’t work for you, it’s equally true that you don’t work for us. If you can’t help, say so.
  4. Be aware of what you can and can’t answer, and above all be aware if something is in the public domain. I once asked a guy about his company profits. He said they were confidential. I pointed out that I could just go to Companies House. He replied – and I treasure this moment – that all Companies House would tell me was the figure he’d given them, his actual profit was much higher. I was very young at the time and didn’t quote him on that. I’ve regretted it ever since.
  5. If we’re really pressing on something with which you’re not comfortable, remember you’re the expert in your business, not us. You can lead us into your comfort zone with phrases like “I think the important point is..” and “My customers are actually telling me…” – I can’t argue with customers.

Those techniques ought to help with some of the trickier questions. Of course if you’ve been siphoning the company pension fund off and we’ve got wind of it and am writing a story about it, there probably isn’t much you can do about it but we’re probably the least of your worries!

Do you need help engaging with the media? I can help; contact me on 07973 278780 or fill in the form below:

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