Working With Media - Part Two

  • 9/7/2022 12:45 pm

The following is the second of a two-part series on “Working with Media.”

Part one, “What to Do Before the Interview,” appeared in the August issue of PartnersNews.


Preparation is key to effective risk management. It’s also essential to the three phases of a media interview — before, during and after. Last month, we reviewed what to do before the interview, but what techniques and practices should you use when speaking to media? What needs to happen afterward? Let’s take a look. 

During the Interview

By this point, you have identified your messaging and pared it down to memorable points that will engage your audience. You have practiced your responses and reviewed the possible inquiries — especially the curveball questions — you might receive. Now that you are ready to speak to the reporter, you will want to be mindful of these helpful tips: 


  • Think of every interview as an opportunity, not as a threat or confrontation.
  • Remain relaxed, confident and honest.
  • Maintain a neutral attitude.
  • Hit your key messages as much as possible. Use one question as a springboard to address your other key points. Repeating your messages will increase your audiences’ retention of them.
  • Take a few seconds to think about your response. Don’t rush yourself.
  • Tell the truth quickly, even if it hurts.
  • Turn tough questions into positive points.
  • Discuss only subject matter that is within your purview.
  • Resist the urge to keep talking. Once you have said all that needs to be said on a subject, you are not obligated to continue speaking. If a reporter remains silent after you have responded, you can do the same.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say that. If you promise to get back to the reporter with a response, be sure to follow through on your commitment.


  • Use jargon, acronyms or technical terms.
  • Use oral pauses such as “er,” “ah” and “um.”
  • Answer more than one question at a time. Instead, restate or rephrase the questions in your own words.
  • Speculate or answer “what if” questions. Instead, bridge the question into a key positive point.
  • Repeat false information or offensive words that might be used in a question.
  • Exaggerate the facts.
  • Use a negative example to make your point.
  • Say “no comment” if you are unsure of the answer. Instead, say “I don’t have anything for you on that,” or “I’ll have to get back to you on that.” If you opt for the latter, follow through on your promise.
  • Be defensive.
  • Be rude, regardless of how foolish a question might seem.
  • Assume anything is “off-the-record.”

After the Interview

  1. Thank the reporter for their interest and for reaching out to you. Remember, you want to establish a strong rapport with media so they know you will be a friendly, accessible source to them going forward.
  2. Reserve any post-mortem discussions with your staff until after the reporter has left the building. Anytime a reporter is within earshot, they may use something they hear, regardless of whether or not you have given them permission.
  3. Follow up with the reporter, if needed, and do it quickly.

Remember, when interacting with media, a successful outcome requires effective planning and practice, so never take an interview for granted. And above all else, always remember the three commandments of media relations:

  1. Thou shalt not lie or knowingly mislead a reporter;
  2. Thou shalt not comment on matters beyond your responsibilities; and
  3. Thou shalt always remain cool and professional, even in the face of vexing, dumb, silly or hostile questions.