If confronted by a reporter who looks like they are working on a smear piece of the organization or partner, stop and address the reporter directly. Always looking at them, repeating their questions and stick to your key messages.
If you get flustered and feel that you answered something incorrectly, gather your thoughts, draft a few key messages, post a blog or tweet or video in your own words and call the reporter back for a more detailed on the record discussion. Make sure your version of the facts is out there for the public to decide. Their opinion may already be made up if you continue to avoid the media.
If you did something wrong, admit it. But also tell me what you are doing about it. And whatever you do, don't run.
It is the role of media, to investigate, to inform and to drive change in the public arena. Many reporters have a lot invested in developing these stories. Chances are, by the time they get to you, their stories have already been written and produced. They are simply looking for a quick visual and a sound bite.
You will be better off if you talk with them, rather than avoid them
Dealing with hostile interviews or hostile interviews
- Let them ask their questions i.e. don’t interrupt them
- Pause before you answer their question – to give you a chance to catch your breath, think about the answer and help slow down the pace of the discussion
- Never get angry – its business so don’t take it personal.
- Sarcasm – Don’t use it. It is not the place and can be misinterpreted
- Walk Away – Don’t do it. You look guilty if you do. You are also giving the TV camera a great visual to help tell the story
- It is never personal
If you respond with defensiveness, anger, or shock, the news outlet will run the tape of your bad reaction repeatedly, perhaps for days. By remaining calm, you prevent reporters from getting the compelling “money shot” they desire.