5 Good Reasons to Turn Down a Media Interview

In my 20 something years in PR, I could count on one hand the times I have advised a client to turn down a media interview, or at least advised them not respond to a story.  It’s a rarity, especially working in the PR world where we embrace publicity with all our might. However, there are valid times when refusing an interview will be a far more effective move and one that will minimise or avoid reputational damage.    From the outset I have to be very clear that I am not advocating a “no comment” response (there is never a time when this response is appropriate) but you can turn down an interview yet still respond.

Here’s how:

1. Its not your area of expertise

I have been approached in the past by media asking me to provide expertise around various topics.  While there may be a loose connection, if it really isn’t your specialty area, then don’t comment. It won’t do your reputation any good to try to be something you are not and may potentially backfire.  Politely refuse and say why.  Even better, recommend an expert you know who is in a better position to respond.

 

2. The issue is negative and it isn’t yours

Let’s say there was an industry issue.  A competitor has been found to be doing the wrong thing and they are currently being profiled in the most negative light.   Being one of that company’s strongest competitors, you have been approached by a journalist to add commentary.  It sounds like it might be a good opportunity to gain the edge over your competitor, right? Wrong!   While it may seem like a positive move, the fallout will be that when audiences hear or read about this issue, your name will be associated with it.  Politely decline and advise that you aren’t in a position to comment on other organisation’s actions.

 

3. The timing is wrong

Its imminent.  You are on the verge of making an announcement – good (significant growth) or bad (significant loss).  Its too early to announce the good news and hopefully you have a media strategy in place which embraces a broader campaign.  Its too early to announce the bad news, you may have to lay people off and this is definitely not something you want employees and their families reading about in the media.     Either way, politely refuse but tell the journalist you will be in touch in the near future when you are in a position to offer a story.

 

4. You don’t have a media training spokesperson

A poor performance in the media – radio, television or print – can do considerable and sometimes irreparable damage to the reputation and goodwill of an individual or organisation.  In the case of a contentious issue, the worst action you can take is throw an untrained spokesperson into the spotlight and painfully watch them writhe under the scrutiny of an investigative journalist.  If there is an issue that needs a response but your spokesperson isn’t media ready, then issuing a carefully crafted media statement would be the best way forward.   You are still responding, but it will be contrived and controlled with the messages you want heard.

5. It’s a legal issue

You or your company are in a legal battle or an issue is currently being investigated.   A media ban is advice that usually emanates from a lawyer but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t communicate.  This is again one of those situations where you should refuse the interview, and say why, but provide a short statement or comment that doesn’t go into the specifics but addresses the reasons you are taking action and the outcome you hope for.

 

There are some occasions where silence or a “no comment” reply can do more reputational damage than good.  In almost every case I would advocate communication and some sort of response.  The key is in both the content and the way you respond. Journalists have a job to do and so do you.  So while at times your objectives and theirs may not be aligned, its important to maintain professionalism and courtesy on every occasion.

10 Tips For A Giving A Great T.V. Interview

Television interviews are an effective way to create awareness about your brand, manage a crisis and put a human face to your company name. The internet is brimming with examples of failed interviews, and even the media is quick to poke fun at on-air faux pas, proving that television can be one of the most challenging interview scenarios to master, even for the pros. Media training helps you to develop the skills you need to give a great interview, and these are my top ten tips to ensure your small-screen debut is a hit…

1. Know Your Objectives.

Before you start diving enthusiastically into the world of lights and cameras, consider whether doing a TV interview will actually help achieve your objectives, and if so how can you measure its success? Have your goals clearly written out and keep them in mind when forming your key messages and selecting the right programs to appear on.

2. Do Your Homework.

Do your research into the program, its target audience and the background of the reporter. Finding out the angle or perspective the reporter is planning to approach the interview with is essential to being prepared for the kinds of questions they’re going to ask. It will also help you decide if this interview opportunity is really right for you – not all publicity is necessarily good publicity.

3. Speak Their Language

Be aware of the show’s audience and tailor your messages to speak to that audience. Are they busy parents getting the family ready in morning, or business owners keeping an eye on the stock market? Whoever is listening, speak in a way that relates to them and their interests. Avoid using industry jargon and too many fact and figures, and be ready with at least one quotable grab that will stick in people’s minds and be repeated in the media.

4. Build Key Messages.

Begin to build your key messages and work on techniques to convey those messages in a cohesive, effective way. What are the main points you really want to get across? How will you respond to tough questions? Compile a comprehensive list of potential questions – from the questions you really want to be asked right down to down to the ones you really don’t want to be asked. The journalist will have done their research thoroughly, so be prepared for absolutely anything.

5. Mind Your Body Language

The words we say are important but they only count for about 7% of our communication. A massive 55% of our communication comes from our body language, and 38% from our vocal tone and expression. The main areas to be aware of are posture, eye contact, and hand gestures. Some key points to remember:

  • Keep an open posture; avoid looking “hunched over” and other closed-off poses.
  • Lean forward and keep good eye contact with the interviewer to show you are engaged.
  • Movements should be minimal and natural. Use hand gestures to complement your words without over-gesticulating.
  • Be mindful of fidgeting or moving around in the seat too much, as this will distract the viewer.
  • Relax. Being on television can be a daunting experience even for the most confident speakers, but the best way to make a good impression on the viewers is to appear as if you do it all time. The trick is to fake it till you make it.

6. Be “On-Air” from the Start

Be in interview-mode from the get-go. That means being professional, punctual and polite at all times. Be mindful of any recording equipment in the room as it could be switched on before and after the actual interview. Basically, if you don’t want something to appear on the news, then keep it to yourself.

7. Accentuate the Positive

Try using affirmative statements such as “I believe that…” instead of negatively charged statements like “I wouldn’t say that…” as this puts your message in a more positive frame of mind with the audience. Be enthusiastic and passionate about your topic and speak as though you’re truly interested in what you’re saying – TV is a monotone-free zone! If the topic is serious or sombre, speak in a neutral tone but remain relaxed and engaging rather than tense and uneasy.

8. Keep Calm and Carry On

We’ve all heard the stories of interviews gone wrong – the reporter throws a question you weren’t prepared for, or suddenly takes an accusatory position or argument. The best way to handle a curveball is with grace and positivity. Never mirror aggression or negativity, no matter how frustrated you may feel, maintain neutral and patient manner, and draw everything back to you key messages. If you’re not 100% sure about something, don’t speculate or say “no comment.” Say you don’t know at this time and offer to get back to interviewer with more information later, and follow through on that.

9. Monitor Your Feedback

Monitor public reaction while the story is on air and after. Keep your eye on all your social media pages as well as online mentions of your company or the interview. If the feedback is mostly positive, this gives you the opportunity to start re-tweeting and thanking the public for all their support. It also means you can engage your public in a discussion of your message while the topic is still fresh in people’s minds. If feedback is negative, have your public relations team monitor the issues now and respond promptly and appropriately – don’t wait for an overflow of bad press to build up overnight.

10. Give Thanks to the Journalist

If the story was good, be sure to follow up with a note or phone call to the journalist to say thank you. Not only will the journalist appreciate it, they will also be more likely to remember you and can become a valuable contact for future press coverage.

 

 

 

The Top 5 Mistakes Spokespeople Make

The objective of any media interview is for you a company spokesperson, individual and brand to be portrayed in the best possible light.  However, there are some really common mistakes that spokespeople continue to make and once the damage is done, you can’t erase it.

 

Mistake #1 – Not Preparing

You wouldn’t walk into a meeting without being prepared so why do this for a media interview?  Without taking the time to research the media outlet and prepare you are allowing yourself to walk into the firing line without any protection.  What ultimately happens is you will find yourself scrambling at the first difficult question.  It will throw you off your game and spiral out of control with your confidence waning as the interview progresses and your reputation in tatters  Remedy:  Putting time into understanding the media outlet, their audience, their angle and your objectives will ensure the best possible outcome.

Mistake #2 – Not Understanding Your Audience

This is a common mistake on two fronts.  Firstly, agreeing to do an interview with an outlet that doesn’t reach your audience and secondly, not speaking in a way your audience can relate.  I have seen so many interviews that have completely lost the audience because the spokesperson has used jargon or answered a question loaded with facts and figures that make people’s eyes glaze over, completely losing your audience (example – John Hewson, the cake and the GST interview – google it if you are too young to remember this one!).  Remedy: If the media outlet does not reach your audience, find one that does.  If your messages are figure heavy then find a way you can express this so the audience can relate for example, ‘you can get this for the price of a weekly cup of coffee’.

 

Mistake #3 – Not Developing Your Messages

If you don’t take the time to prepare the key messages you want to get across in the interview, then don’t bother doing the interview.  What is the point of answering a raft of media questions if you don’t get your own messages across?  The journalist may get what they want but you have completely wasted your time.  Remedy:  Work on 1-3 key messages, rehearse and find a way to weave them into your answers.  Most politicians are masters at getting their message across regardless of the question – you can too.

 

Mistake #4 – Thinking – I won’t get asked that question

This almost happened to a client of mine.  I asked him to work on addressing a negative issue that was in the limelight years before but had been resolved.  My client said, “Don’t worry, they won’t ask about that, it happened ages ago”.  With a live interview on a television morning program I just couldn’t let him take the chance.  So, I convinced him that it wouldn’t hurt to rehearse an answer just in case.  The interview went smoothly but they did ask that question and my client handled it well, maintaining his credibility and putting the audience at ease. Had he not prepared, he would have lost all credibility.   Remedy:  Developing a ‘worst-case-scenario’ line of questioning and devising ideal responses, is another good way to ensure you don’t become a deer in headlights and you maintain your reputation and credibility.

 

Mistake #5 – Winging it

You wouldn’t be able to do your job without some education or training. The same goes for an interview.  Even the charismatic CEO who is a ‘natural’ in front of audiences can find themselves fumbling through an interview at the first tricky question or using body language contrary to what they are saying. A poor performance in an interview can do irreparable damage to an individual’s or company’s reputation.  You can’t risk it, unless you are prepared to lose it.  Remedy:  Get a professional media trainer to take you through the hard questions, getting your messages right and advising you on technique such as body language and voice projection.   It will be the best investment you make in yourself and your organisation.

Positive exposure through the media is, because of the in-built credibility of the media itself, of much more benefit than paid advertising and costs virtually nothing except time.  Invest wisely.

 

How (not) to apologise – Oil, Uber and Ball Tampering

Everyone makes mistakes.  In fact, human error is possibly one of the biggest causes of business failure today.  How you respond to an error can be the difference between disruptive and disastrous.

A poor apology can do further and irreparable harm to your reputation.   However a well-constructed apology delivered genuinely will not only minimise reputational damage but may even raise your profile in a more positive way than ever before.

Let’s first look at how not to apologise.

CEO of BP, Tony Hayward was responding to a massive oil spill in March 2010 and delivered one of the worst corporate apologies I have ever heard.  His words were:

We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused to their lives. There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I want my life back.”

The next day he had to ‘apologise for his apology’ but the damage was done.

 

More recently we have seen some rippers in the news.  Let’s take the Stefanovic brothers’ apology after being caught talking about their colleagues on loud speaker in an Uber.  In his apology Karl Stefanovic said:

 “[Peter and I] talk a hundred times a day and hardly ever about work.  But we did, and the conversation was recorded. And we are sorry. I was angry with myself at first that I could be so stupid… I’ll be taking cabs from now on.”

Most commentary around this called it a ‘carefully constructed apology’ but I disagree.

Karl said he was angry that he could be so stupid – because he said those things or because he got caught?  And saying he will be ‘taking cabs from now on’ isn’t an apology.  It is like saying “I’ll continue to talk about my colleagues but it won’t be in an Uber in case I’m overheard”.”

Maybe Channel 9 and its audiences are more forgiving but it doesn’t sound sincere at all for me.

 

On the flip side (excuse the pun), former Captain of the Australian Cricket Team, Steve Smith, has apologised for his role in the ball-tampering scandal.    He issued a full and heartfelt apology accepting full responsibility and demonstrating genuine remorse.

“I don’t blame anyone. I’m the captain of the Australian team,” Smith said. “I made a serious error of judgment and I now understand the consequences. It was a failure of leadership. Of my leadership.”

Not only will Smith be forgiven but media reports are claiming Smith should “expect a standing ovation when he next walks out to bat in an Australian uniform”.

Whoever scripted that one deserves a pat on the back.

So what can you do to make a good apology?

Be credible

The apology has to come from the person who made the error or the most senior person in an organisation where a company issue has occurred, not read out by someone unrelated to the issue.  The apology must have meaning and demonstrate genuine remorse in the content and the delivery.

Take responsibility

Own your mistake, take responsibility and acknowledge the damage or hurt caused.  Apologise for what you did, not just the effect it had.  For example, don’t say “we are sorry if we offended anyone” – it implies you may not have offended anyone.  In addition, you haven’t apologised for the actual error.

Don’t make excuses

“It was out of my control” or “I didn’t know this was going on” will simply not cut it.

Take action

Commit to further investigation, more resources or training, stricter standards – whatever it takes to fix the problem, reduce the risk or prevent the situation from ever occurring again.

Timing is everything

Don’t sit on an issue hoping it will blow over. There is so much wrong with that approach.  Respond as soon as possible, preferably within the first hour but only if you have all the facts.  A prompt response is recommended before speculation and rumour take over.

Use the right channels

If it broke on twitter, apologise on twitter but don’t limit your apology to one medium.  You need to go where the banter is in order to respond effectively.

Seek legal advice

If the error could result in legal action then seek the advice of a professional.  I would recommend running any statements by a lawyer as a precaution.

 

If you do it right, not only will a good apology set you on the right course again but can potentially see you in a better position than when you started.  You may retain and even gain new customer loyalty in the process.

What Journalists Want

If you want to know what gets a journalist buzzing then read on. If your story doesn’t meet at least one of the criteria featured, go back to the drawing board.

Conflict – When you go home tonight and watch the news I guarantee that apart from the fluffy good news piece at the end, just about every story in the news is likely to contain some element of conflict: war, politics, big corporate vs little guy, murder, violence, cheating and the list goes on. Conflict makes news, that’s a fact. But of course, we don’t want our story to be one of conflict so keep reading for more ideas. 

Access to good spokespeople – an emphasis on ‘access’ and ‘good’. Journalists have deadlines and quite often they are hot on a story which will stop dead if the spokesperson is not available. Journalists want access to good spokespeople – that’s people relatively high up in the organization, have significant knowledge of their company or the issue at hand who have good media interview skills. If you put forward the story and you don’t have access to a good spokesperson, it’s highly likely the story won’t even get written. If it’s a story that the journo is investigating and you don’t have access to a good spokesperson, then you are just sending that journalist to your competitor. 

Exclusives – journalists want exclusives or first exclusives but only if it’s going to help sell their paper or get more viewers/listeners. If it’s a story that is likely to be in a section at the back of a newspaper, it’s probably not important enough to negotiate an exclusive. 

Revolutionary/change – something that will change the way we think or live. Enough said. 

Celebrity profile – go on, try to open a women’s magazine that doesn’t feature a celebrity, I dare you. OK so Miley isn’t our desired spokesperson but find the right one (and ensure they are the right fit) and you may just have a winner. 

Good quotes – if a quote from a person high up in an organisation is compelling enough, the media will run it. Think predictions, trends, breaking news…… 

Great photographs – how many times have you stopped to look at a story because of the photograph? People will notice a visual first, then headline, then text. 

Road Testing – (current affair style specials) X brand washing powder vs Y brand washing powder. However, to put this forward you must be confident with your product. 

Proximity/ Local angle significance – Let’s use an overseas event as an example – if there is an Aussie involved you can guarantee the story will get covered here. Think local which could be suburb, city, state or national. 

Warning – this could happen if…… 

Timely – use what is currently in the news to propel your story further.

Apply at least one of these to every media pitch to give you story more news value.

 

Why your reputation matters now more than ever

So you think you have a squeaky clean reputation and are immune to negative talk and speculation?  Pushing out positive messages like a well-oiled machine will assist your company in being seen in a positive light but have you thought about what isn’t in your “control” such as comments by others about you/your company, posting of photos you didn’t mean the world to see or private information that ends up on the internet?  It isn’t just what you post that forms your reputation but what other people post about you.

You could think about it the same way you would go about making a purchase decision.  You might read information that the company has written about a product but then ask others or go to public forums and online reviews only to find that there are faults and frustrations with the product and how it performs.  As a representative we can say all the positive things you like but from a public perception the public is more likely to believe a stranger online.  Why?  Because a third-party endorsement has far more credibility than what a person or company says about itself.

There is nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide and what goes online stays online. We all watch and cringe as a video goes viral of someone doing something that will not only tarnish their reputation now but stay with them forever as a label they will want to forget.  And it just gets worse.  They lose their job, their place on the sporting team, their relationship breaks down and others start distancing themselves.

In the words of Warren Buffet: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that you’ll do things differently”.

So how can you ensure you continue to be perceived in a positive light?

Apart from avoiding doing something really stupid – with or without the influence of drugs or alcohol – there are steps you can take to manage your reputation online.

There are three key actions to live by:

Listen and monitor what is being said online about you / your company.  Do an online search online looking at news, images and videos.  For a more comprehensive search there are a load of paid solutions for monitoring social media but to kick off set up a Google alert in yours or your company’s name.

Create positive content consistently.  Do things that help build your reputation – writing expert articles, sharing good and relevant content and get better at mastering media interviews.

Address negative sentiment.  So someone has made a negative comment on your /your company’s Facebook page?  Before you hit that delete button, think about how you can turn the situation around.  That negative comment may be a common thought so countering it with facts may not only sway the person who wrote it, but others who are reading it and thinking the same.  Nothing smells more than a company trying to hide bad reviews.

It is always good to have a crisis communications plan ready to roll out in the case of unforseen issues.

In all cases, whether it is your professional online networks or personal online networks there is only one rule – Do not say or do anything that you don’t want to see in print (or on TV, or online or…..).

So what is your reputation worth?  Would you spare ten minutes a day to manage your reputation?  Because that may be all that is required to stay on top of how your reputation is tracking.

Five Steps to Mastering Your Next Media Interview

You have agreed to do a media interview so now you have to face the firing line, so to speak

Regardless of whether you are launching a new product or responding to a crisis, the objective of any interview should be to promote your brand/company in a positive light and to get the best possible outcome from the interview.  Here are five things you can do to master your next media interview.

1) Preparation is key.  Start by making a list of every possible question a journalist may ask including a ‘worst-case-scenario’ line of questioning and devise ideal responses to ensure you ready for any question, including the tricky ones.

As Henry Kissinger, a master of interviews, once remarked during a press conference whilst Secretary of State, “Does anyone have any questions for my answers?’

2) The journalist is asking the questions but you are the one managing the responses. There is no point in participating in any interview if your key messages aren’t communicated.    A solid understanding of your company’s key messages and thinking of different ways to say the same thing provides the foundation to get your message across (almost) regardless of the question asked.

3) Investigate the publication or media program beforehand – it will help you understand the type of questions that may get asked and even more importantly the audience reading, watching or listening so you can pitch your answers accordingly.

4) If the interview is conducted on television or radio, use your body language and tone of voice to create a positive impression. Viewers are likely to read into body language despite your response, which may be positive, so shifting in your seat nervously or buying time by reaching for that glass of water will tell the audience things that may work to contradict your response.

5) The interview itself is a great opportunity to establish your credibility, build rapport with the interviewing journalist that will hopefully develop into an ongoing relationship.

Last of all, try to relax and enjoy the interview –it is likely to be the one of many and each interview is a valuable learning process.

Five things you must do in a crisis

A crisis can impact your company in a variety of ways and should normally pass, but the critical question to consider is will your company’s reputation survive.  These sure fire tips will help you navigate through a crisis and emerge with minimal harm to your reputation.

1. Prepare!
Do you honestly believe in your working life nothing bad will happen that could put your company or its reputation at risk?  The difference between a reputation being destroyed or preserved will be in the preparation.  A crisis management plan and a crisis communication plan are both essential to manage a crisis and continue your ability to deliver.  When the crisis hits there is no time to sit down and write a plan of action.  Preparing plans in advance will mean you can concentrate on managing, and where possible containing, the crisis.

2. A good spokesperson
A poor performance in the media can do considerable – sometimes irreparable – damage to your organisation, your professional standing and goodwill with stakeholders and audiences.  A crisis will be challenging enough to deal with at any one time, so having a media spokesperson who holds a senior position in the business, has knowledge of the crisis and the company’s policies AND be able to handle the tough questions, is vitally important to how this crisis will play out in the media.  The spokesperson should have undergone media training to handle these situations (but not 5 minutes before the story is breaking).

3. The essential holding statement
When ‘it’ hits the fan you must be ready to talk.  This is not the time to bury your head in the sand.  What you say first in a crisis sets the tone for the entire ‘event’.  You must be ready to come out with a holding statement at the very least.  This means acknowledging the problem, demonstrating compassion and talking about your course of action ie what steps you are taking to resolve the crisis.  The holding statement must end with the promise you will be back in touch with the media/public at a defined time to deliver further information.

4. Staying in the limelight
Ok so this doesn’t sound so appealing when you have a crisis on your hands but if no-one has the facts then speculation fills the gap and this could be your worst nightmare.  Your next few deliveries to the media/ public need to be updates of what you know, what you don’t know and what further action you are taking.   The more co-operative and visible you are, the more likely you/your organisation will be viewed as trusted regardless of the situation.  You only have to picture a company /spokesperson going to ground to understand what message that sends.  Remember if the media can’t get the story from you, they will find someone else and that may not be the perspective you want featured.

5. Be honest, open and transparent
People will forgive human error, mistakes or even poor judgement but they will never forgive a calculated lie.  Enough said!!
See the process through and in rebuilding your company’s brand after the crisis, adhere to the above tips to retain or win back stakeholder confidence.

The Essential ‘C’s’ of Communicating in a Media Interview

Your performance in a media interview has the ability to shape public impressions and perceptions of you and your organisation.  You can make or break your reputation with a good or poor interview.  The seven C’s of communicating in a media interview will help make the whole interview process smoother and help lead to a more favourable result:

Credibility
First impressions are everything. In the first 30 seconds we meet someone we have already formed an impression.  Keep this in mind when preparing for your interview and make sure you dress, act and speak appropriately for the situation.

Context
State the reasons why you are here talking today – the reasons that brought you to the interview as well as the message you want to convey – what is important and why.

Content
What you say must be relevant to the audience. Only share facts that are relevant and meaningful to the audience.

Clarity
Speak clearly and lose the jargon.  The interviewer must be able to understand what you are talking about. Make sure the words you use mean the same thing to the audience.

Continuity
Repeat key messages. What do you want to say and how many different ways can you say it?  Repetition achieves infiltration and understanding.

Consistency
Make sure your message is consistent with other communications that are being said by your organisation.

Capability of audience
The interviewer must be aware of the audience capabilities. The least effort required understanding the message, the more effective it will be.
With these key points in mind you will be rewarded with better, clearer communication and the ability to maximise your story potential.  Remember – preparation is king.
Henry Kissinger was a master at interviews and was once overheard asking confidently at a news conference “Does anyone have any questions for my answers?”

The Seven Deadly Sins of Television Interviews

In the world of news there are a multitude of sins that can have an adverse effect on the person being interviewed and/or the organisation they represent.  Some sins are worse than others but regardless they will all lead to a bad experience that can leave a reputation in tatters.  Below are seven of the most deadly of all sins when it comes to television interviews.

 

  1. Sloth – the avoidance of any work or in this case pre-work.  Going into an interview without researching the journalist, the program or who watches it is like kicking a ball without having any idea of where the goal post is.  We’ve seen it happen before unfortunately… The interviewee says little of interest to the audience or has lost them through jargon and irrelevant information.  Amends:   Do (or delegate someone else to) some research on past programs, watch a few, get an idea of the program and the host’s tone, then formulate your messages accordingly.
  1. Gluttony – overindulgence. This takes the form of going on and on about yourself and/or your organisation without consideration for what the audience might be interested in.  Amends:  Find a medium between what you want to say and how it is relevant to the viewing audience. Give the audience something over and above product/service information to leave them feeling informed, not sold to.
  1. Wrath – anger and/or uncontrolled feelings of hatred.  Getting heated in an interview – no matter how hostile the question – is a really bad look – it says ‘guilty’, ‘defensive’ and nothing good about your personality.  Amends:  Develop and practice answers to the questions you don’t want to be asked.  If you are prepared well enough, you will be in control when the tough questions are asked.
  1. Envy – resentment of what others have.  This is slamming the competition and being negative about what others are doing.  Amends:  Practice talking about your strengths and how you are different from others without needing to point out their flaws.
  1. Lust – an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.  You want your 15 minutes of fame and you don’t care how you get it – so you call yourself an expert when the truth is you aren’t an expert at all.  You are asked a question you have no idea about but you answer it anyway.  Amends:  Only agree to speak about what you know and let the journalist know your areas of expertise in advance.  If someone in your organisation is better equipped to do the interview, then let them step up. If you do find yourself in an interview where you are asked something you don’t know, then be honest and tell the journalist exactly that.
  1. Greed – desire for material wealth.  You have just forgotten the golden rule of PR, which is to ‘make aware or inform’ not sell.  You are so caught up with your sales spiel you don’t realise the journalist and the audience have switched off and you will most likely never be invited back as a guest.  Amends:  Develop a conversational language style which allows you to talk with your audience not at them.
  1. Pride – excessive belief in one’s own abilities. The original and most serious sin of all.  It is the belief you are so good at what you do you don’t need any help.  You may know your topic but if you have not had extensive experience or training in being interviewed you could do irreparable damage to yourself and your organisation.  Amends:  Get professional media training.  Don’t ask your work colleagues to do it -they will be too afraid to tell you the truth.  Get outside help and do it BEFORE you do the interview.