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Is There Anything Else You'd Like to Add?
By Andrew Gilman   Printer Friendly Version

The most opportune moment for a business executive in an interview with a reporter should be when the reporter looks up after a furious bout of note taking and ask: "Is there anything else I should know?" Another version of the question: "Those were all my questions. Is there anything else you would like to add?"

In almost all business meetings - from new business presentations to budget reviews, from job interviews to internal meetings-this is one of the golden questions prepared presenters look forward to.

And if it's not asked, good communicators figure out a way to summarize their key points, or bring up a subject that has not yet been raised.

The down side is that any response opens up a whole new line of questions. But if managers would prepare for the press as well as they do for most other business interactions, the last question should never throw them.

There are many reasons why spokespersons don't take advantage of the question. These include unfamiliarity with the interview process, loss of control, not knowing enough about the reporter and the article, and the inability to view final copy before it appears.

Based upon experience with large and small companies, associations and government agencies, I found that the primary driver of the non-response to the last question is that most corporate and organization cultures do not put high premium on good quotes or positive articles.

Managers are not generally rewarded in promotions, bonuses and recognition for positive articles and quotes. And most managers can tell you about someone whose career got sidetracked or derailed because of a negative news article or quote.

So for a manager, scientist, or executive to work better throughout the entire interview, corporations, partnerships and associations must develop a stronger understanding of what journalism is all about, as well as a tolerance of the occasional article or quote that is not as flattering as they would like.

As a reporter, even on an investigative piece, I always asked the last open-ended question. I genuinely wanted to learn what a spokesperson or expert desired to communicate. I really didn't expect the people I interviewed to self-immolate by volunteering negative information or agree to skeptical reporter questions or criticisms from detractors. It's the rare- and not easily forgotten- interview where a reporter gains juicy quotes from a denial.

In fact, it's deadline pressure that

Like most other aspects of marketing and proactive communications, success in media interviews is directly related to your ability to prepare, anticipate and practice.

works in both reporter's and spokesperson's favor. When confronted with limited time to pull a story together, the tow easiest places to find quotes are the first and the last answer.

Here are a few suggestions on how to take better advantage of the last question- or any questions a reporter may asků

  • Have a clear idea of what you want to communicate. Back up general statements with facts and examples.
  • Don't be afraid to ask the reporter questions, for example, to substantiate facts, to find out whom else he or she has talked to. This will help you better position your responses.
  • When asked if you want to add anything, either repeat a point or bring up one that the reporter didn't ask about, but which you would like included.
  • If a reporter forgets to ask if you want to add anything, jump in with either a summary statement or one of the points that wasn't covered.

Like most other aspects of marketing and proactive communications, success in media interviews is directly related to your ability to prepare, anticipate, and practice.

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