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Today’s Leadership Daily Advisor Tip:

Don’t Panic: You Can Survive a Potential Media Disaster

by Susan Solomon

Topic: Marketing and Sales

Yesterday we discussed how to master the media interview. Today we’ll address what to do when you’ve done all your prep work, armed yourself with key messages, and are ready for what you believe will be a terrific interview. Then, moments after the interview begins, you realize it’s going south and you’re in the midst of a potential medial disaster. Here are a few tips to get back on track:


  • Deer in Headlights Is Never a Good Look. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t guess. Simply state that you will find out the information and provide it later.  There is nothing wrong with this response (unless it’s your only response). And make sure you follow through on your promise.
  • Bridge. If you don’t want to answer the question, your best bet is to bridge to something you do want to talk about. Simply state, “I think we need to consider the following,” and then offer a response more in line with your key messages. It doesn’t work every time, but at least you are trying to get your point across, and you may even interest the reporter with probing the issue further.

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  • Keep calm. Even if questions you consider unfair or out of line zing toward you, try not to flinch and lose your temper. You will never look your best standing up and leaving an interview or putting your hand over the camera lens. (In fact, you should never touch any of a crew’s equipment.) Don’t pick fights, either. Take a breath and compose yourself. 

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  • Reputations can recover. If, despite your best efforts, you don’t come across in the best light, try reaching out to the reporter. Explain what you meant to say and, if possible, ask for the chance to clarify. You can also try alternate media to polish up your reputation or post something thoughtful on social media. Again, don’t lash out. Get your point made and carry on. Next time you’ll be that much more prepared to meet the press.

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