It’s 25 years since Gerald Ratner gave his infamous speech filled with badly judged jokes to a group of company directors and journalists, torpedoing his vast jewellery empire in mere minutes.
Barely a week goes by without a politician or businessperson being raked over the coals for a bad media appearance, and it can seem that getting your face or your company on S4C’s Heno or Wales Tonight is asking for trouble.
However, with a little forethought and preparation, you can seize what can be a rare chance to share your message with a wide audience, boost you and your brand’s standing with the public and start to build a positive relationship with the likes of ITV Wales or the BBC.
Gather as much information as possible beforehand to ensure you can prepare well, respond confidently and with authority, and present yourself to potential customers in the best possible light.
This includes when and where the interview will take place, who will be present, what topics they are interested in, and what format will be used, e.g. print, video or audio, live or pre-recorded.
In addition, prepare your key messages and bring together any relevant statistics or research you may need, as well as anticipate any potentially awkward lines of questioning.
Think about the small things to avoid being flustered minutes before the interview starts. Do you know where to park? Do you have the correct payment method for the car park? If the radio crew are visiting site, can you assign someone else to look after them by providing drinks etc.
The aim is to allow you to focus purely on the interview and not logistics or worrying about being surprised, for example if you find out it’s actually a live conversation minutes before the camera rolls.
Pressure to include key messages can be overwhelming, so keep it simple by focusing on the two or three most relevant ones.
If an awkward question does arise, remember that you don’t need to answer immediately, or at all.
Take a moment to digest the question and think of your response. Also, instead of saying ‘no comment’ aim to tactfully loop around. One such example is replying ‘Based on our research, what we think is the most important question is….’.
A journalist, when they’re acting in their professional capacity isn’t your friend, but neither are they your enemy. It might seem like they’re trying to catch you out, but their job is to inform. Offer a response that does that in a positive way.
Visit our dedicated page to find out more about media training.