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Covid Media Advice - Spokespeople aren't controlling interviews

9 April 2020

The vast majority of people spoken to by media regarding the Covid-19 crisis are treating their interview as Q&As. In other words, a reporter or presenter asks a question and they answer it. That may seem obvious, but its not the best approach.

How should you do it

You should certainly answer their questions but then transfer to a point you want to get across. You should have about three of these ready to focus on. They also need to be of interest to the audience. Here’s an example of what most people do: Reporter: How many workers have you had to lay off? Answer: 5.

But they should transfer to a pre-prepared point after that. Here’s how it could have gone: Reporter: How many workers have you had to lay off? Answer: 5 and if the government doesn’t as least double its support payment, we’ll go out of business.

This isn’t spin or avoiding questions. Remember the media come up with the topic, but you have a right to contribute to the conversation. That’s where the opportunity comes in. As long as your points are of interest, everyone wins.

For taped interviews, you can also take this a step further by dressing up your points into attractive language like analogies and rhetorical questions. That often makes them irresistible for media to use as their sound bites or direct quotes.

A crisis like this often sees people thrust onto the national stage when they least expect it. The key is to be ready for interviews so you can treat them as major opportunities to get your message across rather than threats to your reputation.

If you’d like to master the media interview process from your own home during the lockdown, check out our heavily reduced online Media Training Academy at this link.

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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