Talking to the media is as easy as ABC
Posted: Wednesday 08 February, 2012
Face and telephone time with journalists is ever decreasing for many businesses, as busy schedules mean reporters often have to pose questions over email. However, company spokespeople should understand how to deal with tough questions as, again, due to demanding media timescales, once an interview is secured there may be little time to prepare.
To ensure correct brand messages are relayed or to answer difficult questions, as well as ones you just can’t answer, the ABC technique can be called upon –
A – Answer the question
B – Bridge to a key message
C – Conclude by telling the journalist what the facts mean
Here’s an example –
Answer – “I don’t know the answer to that, I’m afraid. Let me give it some thought and get back to you.
Bridge – “But your question reminds me that when we started this business, our product portfolio consisted of just three types of cushion. Today we make over two hundred styles, sizes and colour of cushions and pillows.”
Conclude – “And we aren’t stopping there. We are constantly moving forward and creating new trends in soft furnishings. This is why our new range of sofas will help to ensure we continue to be leaders the industry.”
Strategic bridging phrases include “what’s crucial to remember is”, “even more importantly” and “you make a good point but our main concern is”. Manoeuvring carefully into your conclusion and key messages can be done through phrases like, “if you look at all the facts you will see”, “fundamentally, the point is” and “that’s why we believe”.
Swatting up on how to handle tough questions from the media is essential for a wide range of spokespeople, in businesses small and large. It will often be in times of crisis when journalists want to undertake an interview so, understandably, queries will be hard-hitting and demanding. Don’t leave it to a time when it’s too late and risk negative coverage that could be hard for the business to recover from.