When is it right to say nothing?

bored, sammy

In the past I’ve blogged about how saying ‘no comment’ is a bad option. There are times, however, when saying nothing is a good idea.

Occasions on which I advise media training delegates to say nothing include:

  • When you don’t know the answer to something: Seriously, some people will waffle terribly rather than say they don’t know something. A press interview is not a test like a job interview, if you don’t know something, have to check or whatever, just say so. If we say we need to know now, that’s not your problem – you don’t work for us. The worst offenders are the ones that make something up rather than admit they don’t know something. I’ve had those interviews and unpicking then afterwards, when a misleading comment has been published in good faith, is messy.
  • When it’s someone else’s department: Internal politics happen in business. So if you’re in product development and get asked about a sales strategy, even if you know the answer, the sales director might feel strongly about people discussing his or her stuff on behalf of the company. Worse, they might have changed the policy without briefing you. It’s likely to be safer to refer the question to the right department. Again, if we need our answer now don’t be intimidated – you don’t work for us.
  • When there isn’t a massive amount to say:  It’s probably truer of press releases than interview answers, but I get an awful lot of guff and ‘opinion’ across my desk when really, I hadn’t asked for it and it’s dull, dull, dull. My reaction is a bit like that of my pet cat Sammy (pictured after a particularly long conversation with me). I won’t use the comment, why would I?  If there’s nothing to say, don’t say it.

Do you need help talking to the media or constructing press releases? I can help – email me by clicking here and we’ll talk.

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