Looking over some financials, you’re getting some notes together for an impromptu meeting that your board has called. Not thinking too much about it, you figure that so long as you have all of your ducks in a row, you’re covered. Just gotta find those last few graphs in your files…
The phone rings. Not really looking at your caller ID (expecting it to be one of your cohorts to chat about the meeting), you pick up the receiver…”Hulloh…?”
It’s a reporter on the line…and this person is asking you some ‘sensitive’ questions about your organization. Questions that you may not even know where they may be coming from…or why.
How do you handle it? How do you keep yourself ‘in check’ with your answers? What is appropriate?
Following are three things that can help you navigate these kinds of waves:
- Give Yourself Some Time – Tell the reporter that you’ll call him/her back. You’d much rather have this kind of conversation after you’ve given yourself a little bit of cushion instead of talking off the top of your head. Find out when their deadline is – it’s ok to ask. Use this extra time to think through what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it …especially if you anticipate any dicey issues that may be raised. Saying ‘no comment’ is not an option – it makes you look shifty and sound guilty.
- Have a Little Bit of a Gameplan – Give yourself a little bit of a ‘cheat sheet’ with some key elements that you want to get across. And don’t shy away from drawing a line in the sand. If you’ve got something to back it up, put it out there. From a writer’s standpoint, the more thought-provoking or interesting you can be, the more likely you are to get quoted. Moreover, using your cheat sheet will make things a little bit more easy on your nerves…opening you up to be a bit more conversational and less robotic. Reporters hate robots.
- Keep it simple and relevant – Use real-world examples that support your message points…leave the ‘theory work’ to the professors in college. You will come over as more authoritative when you have facts and specifics to back yourself up.
What other ‘essentials’ would you add to this list?