With 5 weeks to go, Seawork will no doubt bring about lots of exciting business and media opportunities. Picture the scene – your stand is a hive of activity and next thing you know, a journalist has caught you off guard and starts enquiring about your company’s activities. We hear time and time again that a situation like this ignites fear and dread where people freeze, become tongue-tied and leave the journalist feeling singularly unimpressed.
You could have a really great story to tell but if you don’t have the experts available who can communicate effectively, journalists will very quickly move on to the next story. Here are four steps that will improve the situation:
1. Prepare: This week, spend ten minutes with a couple of colleagues and brainstorm 20 possible/probable questions, including the difficult ones and prepare some answers. Write up the Q&A and circulate it to all attendees. This will ensure everyone knows what the company position is on a given subject.
2. Buy time: If necessary, you can say to the journalist “now is not a good time, could you come back in 5/10 minutes or later in the day?”. Ask him/her what they would like to discuss – that way you will have some time to think through your responses, particularly if they are tricky and sensitive issues.
3. Have an opinion: If there are potentially controversial or sensitive issues, work out where you stand and don’t be afraid to air those views – the key is making sure you can back them up. Journalists are looking for experts with a strong opinion. If your company prefers not to comment on such issues that’s fine, but don’t be surprised if the reporter then makes their excuses and ends the interview abruptly.
4. Be interesting and relevant: Coming across as an authoritative spokesperson is key – try to refer to real life examples to help bring your points to life. Also, be selective when weaving in your own internal messages.
Emmett & Churchman offers a one day bespoke media training workshop called Credence.
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