Are you prepared for media interviews?

When a crisis comes, the media follows ––and they don’t take their time. Generally speaking, before a company even fully understands the situation they’re in, the media is already on it. It’s challenging to be the spokesperson for a company or organization during good times, much less during times of uncertainty. So, it’s vital to be prepared.

Whether it’s a planned interview or an on-the-street ambush, knowing your company’s key messages is critical. It’s also valuable to understand how to take control of an interview. If a question is asked that you don’t want to answer, instead of saying ‘no comment’ (amateur hour), redirect the question by segueing into a key message that you planned to incorporate. When large companies have a PR crisis, it’s no secret –– it’s normally splattered all over the news. For example –– we all remember the United Airlines PR nightmare when a passenger was dragged forcibly off a plane and their CEO’s initial response included ‘I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.’ Most people can agree that re-accommodating and being dragged off a plane are two different things and that a bit of media coaching could have helped United Airlines significantly. On the contrary, if handled well, a tough situation could bring continued good will to an organization. For example, when two African American men were arrested while simply waiting at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, the company issued an apology –– “We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest…” and closed all 8,000 company owned stores for an afternoon to hold racial bias training. 

Many companies will experience difficult situations with the media, but the question is, will your company be prepared to handle them?  Having a plan in place and a spokesperson prepared to address the situation immediately can mitigate extremely challenging situations – saving your reputation, sales, customer loyalty, etc.

Have you considered who the right individuals in your company are to represent the organization? Once you’ve determined this, they should be properly media trained. Media training provides a company’s spokespeople with an understanding of the media landscape and how to best leverage it for their organization. The training prepares a spokesperson in an intensive, hands-on session that provides real-life scenarios and teaches practices that allow one to control the message being communicated. Learn more about Cristofoli Keeling, Inc.’s comprehensive media training and how it can not only prepare your spokesperson but help to ensure positive outcomes for any proactive or reactive media opportunities: https://www.cristofolikeeling.com/about/.

Amy Greene