Handling media interviews part two: difficult questions

Technical PR, Engineering PR, Industrial PR, Manufacturing PR & Electronics PRFollowing yesterday’s guide to preparing for a media interview, toady’s post is dedicated to the next step; handling difficult questions.

There aren’t many questions during a trade press interview that could truly be classed as difficult. As a general rule, the technical media doesn’t want to trip you up and expose you. However, there will be questions that for political reasons need to be answered subtly.

The main points of a media interview are always are to tell the truth, keep to the point, be positive and direct and tackle factual errors or distortions in the question immediately.

Before the interview, you should decide on the three most important points to get across. These will become your three points of refuge, to which you can resort when you face a tough question, when your mind goes blank or when you need to buy time. In a trade press interview, they shouldn’t be the only things you say of course; make sure you answer the questions as well.

And finally, remember, you can always use these tactics if stuck:

1. Chip away at the question with a clarifying question. Use that to lead towards the answer you want to give.

2. If the question might involve revealing technical information that you don’t want to reveal, simply tell the truth! The chances are you aren’t the expert on that particular element of the technology, so tell the journalist that and arrange for a follow up interview with the actual expert later. This will give you time to clarify your thoughts and come up with the best answer.

3. Use your three points of refuge. If you have doubts about this, just watch an interview with a respected politician on TV. They invariably stick to their points of refuge for every answer because the questions are nearly always hostile!

Tomorrow, I’ll tackle deciding on what to talk about in the first instance!


Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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