Why do spokespersons need to be prepared before meeting the Media?
The images of oil-drenched shores along with birds and sea-life saturated in oil were shown on various TV channels and publications along with this quote from the CEO of BP:
“I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.”
~ Tony Hayward
Perhaps there is no need to summarize why this turned out to be a PR disaster for BP.
This is not the first time that spokespersons have caviled about issues and made matters worse for their companies in front of the media. Perhaps Tony Hayward’s quotes are a testament to the need for preparation for all company spokespersons before facing the media for an interview.
What does it take to prepare for an interview with the Media?
Getting ready to face the media as a spokesperson for your organization requires highly specialized insights and guidance that is much more than a simple session in effective communication. It includes having a good grasp of your key messages as well as understanding the various mediums, tips and techniques on how to face each one of them. You also need to prepare for potential tricky and awkward questions and how to deal with them, using your body language, voice, tone and gestures to create a positive image and also simply when to speak and when to refrain from making a comment.
Tips to consider before speaking to the media
There are some basic rules that one can follow when speaking to the media:
1. Understand the medium
Radio, Television, and print are 3 very different mediums and each needs to be tackled in different ways. Depending on the message being delivered, it is safe to say that preparation is the key for each of them.
Television interviews require more preparation especially if they are being aired live as it captures not just what you are saying but interpretations are also drawn from your body language and other gestures.
2. The message
Always have an objective in mind before any interview and remember to mention the key message at every opportunity. In the event of a crisis, a spokesperson may speak about the loss of human life and focus on efforts being made for rescue and how that is the priority over everything else.
In the case of a product launch the spokesperson may talk about the ethos of the brand and how it represents everything that is vital to their target audience. However, it is best in all scenarios that the message is kept simple and short.
3. Local Vs Global Media
In many cases, the objectives and methodology of local and global media can be very different. Each region or country has its own style of reporting, values and objectives as far as news is concerned.
It is important to understand the styles and purpose of each and tackle them accordingly. The expected behavior of a spokesperson in Malaysia may be very different from that of one in Germany or Japan. Perhaps Tony Hayward should have been briefed about the same as well.
These are some of the simple tips that you can keep in mind but if you would like more in depth assistance in getting ready for a media interview or assistance with crisis communications, we are at your service.