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5 Things to Never Say in a Press Interview

One of the most important components of effective media public relations is briefing the press. Whether it is for the purpose of announcing the launch of new company, the rollout of a new product or a service, or to provide the press with insight or guidance regarding industry and technology trends, you and your team need to remember five things to never say to the editor or reporter. Click on the picture below to review the most heinous mistakes that many high-tech organizations make.

We have to reschedule

No. 1: 'Sorry, we have to reschedule. Our spokesperson/CEO/product manager, got called away to another call.' 

This can be especially damaging if this message is delivered at the last minute -- because the editor is sitting on the phone waiting for the briefing to start. Yes, stuff does happen, but your company's representative needs to understand the significance of talking to the press and respect their time. Yes, if your spokesperson is the CEO of a BIG company, like Apple or Intel, you may be able to get away with this a couple of times, but for most of us, disrespecting an editor is often the kiss of death for a budding editorial relationship. 

If a conflict does arrive, the quicker you can get to the editor and express your regrets and re-schedule, the better it will be for future discussions.

No. 1: “Sorry, we have to reschedule. Our spokesperson/CEO/product manager, got called away to another call.”

This can be especially damaging if this message is delivered at the last minute — because the editor is sitting on the phone waiting for the briefing to start. Yes, stuff does happen, but your company’s representative needs to understand the significance of talking to the press and respect their time. Yes, if your spokesperson is the CEO of a BIG company, like Apple or Intel, you may be able to get away with this a couple of times, but for most of us, disrespecting an editor is often the kiss of death for a budding editorial relationship.

If a conflict does arrive, the quicker you can get to the editor and express your regrets and re-schedule, the better it will be for future discussions.

By keeping these guidelines in mind, your efforts to get your news out will be more effective. Then, implement these key takeaways:

  • Be prepared. Know what the product or discussion is all about. If a busy CEO or executive is the “official” spokesperson for the company, at least have a qualified and knowledgeable person sitting next to him or her during the briefing.
  • Respect the editor/reporters and their time. They are knowledgeable professionals doing their job. They respect you. You need to respect them. Over my 20 plus years of setting up and hosting press briefings, I have found that most execs understand that one needs to treat everyone professionally. However, there have been a few who have no concept — who think that their job, their position, allows them to trample over everyone, their staff, their consultants, and their press relations. They are too busy, too important, to worry about how they come across to the press.
  • Have news and be prepared. Once again this comes down to respect and understanding that not only does the editor have a job to do, but that he or she can be an integral component to the success of the company and its offerings. Positive press coverage is built upon ongoing positive press relationships. Screw up once, they may forgive you. Screw up twice, and its adios!

5 comments on “5 Things to Never Say in a Press Interview

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 31, 2014

    Some of my experiences with such press briefings tell me that many times the reporters or editors who attend such briefings are not much interested in hearing what is being said by the company representative, or what product is being demonstrated.

    Many times they will be just happy to collect whatever Press release the company has prepared and will be eager to finish the evening with a sumptuous dinner as a reward for their time spent.

  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 31, 2014

    My favorite types of meetings are those where we can get beyond content and into strategy. Many organizations don't prepare their folks for this type of organization. I love the times though when we can get beyond what is in the press release or on the corporate agenda and get to what the announcement demonstrates about trends in the industry, technological implications and the rest. That's when it gets interesting and exciting for me.

  3. Susan Fourtané
    November 3, 2014

    “Or he does the Hail Mary, the tried and true: “Good question — we will get back to you on that one.”” In other words, boring, unoriginal clichés. -Susan

  4. FLYINGSCOT
    November 3, 2014

    Thanks for the interesting article.  If ever I am this type of situation I will try to remember these tips.  Over the years I seen some seriously woeful press conferences ranging from people that looked like they could nto be bothered showing up to those who knew nothing about their product.

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 4, 2014

    @FlyingScot, at least you recognize the past mistakes. that's the first step to doing it differently going forward! 🙂

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