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
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
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
|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
- 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.