A weblog by Jon Silk, Client Services Director at LEWIS PR. (Contact / Subscribe)

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Friday, 3 August 2007

That's a very interesting question. I'm glad you asked me that. The answer is in three parts. One...

Matthew Stibbe at the Bad Language blog has posted a really good post on poor interview technique.

Numbers 5 and 6 are classic PR challenges. How do you stick to the messaging when a journalist is asking questions that - inconveniently - don't lead in the right direction?


Matthew said...

In the context of PR-driven interviews, the tendency of interviewees to not listen to the question or trot out pre-written soundbite answers is, in my experience, enhanced by media training. When I was a full-time journalist, and I heard that an interviewee was 'media trained' my heart sank. It's not that I advocate letting any old Tom, Dick or Harriet give interviews without any training or vetting; it's just that media training seems to focus exclusively on keeping people 'on message', frightening them about evil journalists and drumming the life and personality out of them. The best interviews are like intelligent, sparkling dinner conversation; not like an exam or job interview. If you wouldn't say it to a friend in a pub, don't say it in any interview. I think that media training should come in two parts: 1) frighten then condition, 2) teach them how to bring some personality without saying things they shouldn't.

Jon said...

Hi Matthew,

Interesting views.

My own media training sessions, obviously depending on the trainee, focus on:

1. understanding the journalist's objectives
2. preparation for tough questions
3. not being dull and corporate.

As a journo the last thing I wanted to do was interview an exec that just answered with the corporate line. Usually, I didn't ask them for comment again. And it's 'repeat business' that makes a successful spokesperson.