After 20 years of orchestrating, rehearsing and attending media interviews at real or rehearsed crises, I am convinced that spokespersons delivering media interviews in times of critical events need to be prepared to deliver concise answers quickly and effectively. They need to show leadership and agenda control. In these days of the instant news grab, long-winded statements are useless.
Here is my hit list for handling crisis interviews and taking the high ground:
• Take time to rehearse your key messages.
• Do the interview sooner rather than later.
• Avoid sit-down interviews. Stand up and deliver.
• Give the right facts before they suggest the wrong ones.
• Start with a statement of sympathy and understanding.
• Link your actions with those of the authorities.
• DON’T TELL LIES.
• Stay calm and positive. Show you are in total control.
• Get your main points across at the start - live interviews are fast.
• Be brief in all your answers.
• Correct any introductory misinformation or negative statements.
• Don’t respond to rumour or innuendo.
• Finish the interview before it finishes you.
• Tell them you will return soon and give them more.