Media & Business Continuity (Part II): The Do’s and Don’ts

After I originally wrote the “Media & BCM” blog article, I decided to put a second part together with the Do’s and Don’ts of speaking with the media.  If you’ve deal with the media before – either through crisis or disaster situation or just as part of your role – you may recognize some of these.

I don’t admit to being a media expert but I’ve gathered these pointers from various sources, including conversations with crisis communication reps at various client sites that do speak with the media on a regular basis.  So, if anything seems out of

 The DON’TS

When preparing to give a speech,

  • Don’t assume you can “wing it”—very few people can (You’re not Robin Williams…)
  • Don’t decide you’re better at “off the cuff” remarks and comments (Again, you’re not Robin Williams…)
  • Write notes for yourself that you can’t read or follow because the type is too small
  • Forget to practice what you’re about to present.  Don’t leave yourself too little time

When you arrive at your speaking session/engagement/conference/interview;

  • Be late
  • Forget the group’s contact person’s name (if it’s a specific group you’re addressing)
  • Fail to check your equipment (if you’re using IT equipment, make sure it works before you start speaking)

When you’re speaking;

  • Mumble your words like you’ve got gum in your mouth
  • Speak too loudly into the microphone(s), they’ll pick you up just fine if you’ve checked out the equipment
  • Wander away from your prepared text and start guessing or ‘winging it’
  • Tell an unprepared anecdote or joke
  • Speak longer than the time allotted

When you’re answering questions;

  • Become defensive or emotional (it shows you might be hiding something or taking things personally)
  • Assume that tough questions are personal (kinda like the above)
  • Answer more than the question itself (just answer, if you can, what was asked)
  • Allow one person to dominate the question period (point out someone else so they can ask a question)
  • Don’t try to answer “what if” questions (this can get you into all sorts of problems…)
  • Don’t accept “laundry list” questions (just answer one at a time)
  • Don’t go off the record (like I said in Part I, there is no ‘off the record’)
  • Don’t speculate (you don’t want media to speculate so why are you?)
  • Don’t think you have to answer every question (if you don’t know, then say so)
  • Don’t speak for someone else (they won’t like at and you’re probably wrong anyway)
  • Don’t say NO COMMENT (It lets people know they’ve hit a nerve and there’s something you’re hiding or refusing to say…big trouble if you say this)

When preparing for TV;

  • Avoid wearing pronounced strips, checks or small patterns (That just sounds bad even if you’re not on TV)
  • Grey, brown, blue or mixed coloured suits/dressed are best (I guess these are subtle and less aggressive.) (Note to self; buy more blue and grey suits)
  • Grey, light-blue off-white or pastel shirts or blouses are best (Got something against bright red?)
  • Avoid having hair cut right before interview (Again, I have no idea why, I guess it looks like you spent more time primping that actually preparing)
  • Don’t do your own makeup, let the professionals do it (I’m not sure what to say…)

 

The DO’S:

(I find it interesting that there are more “Don’ts” than “Do’s”….)

  • Document the key messages/points you want to make (Otherwise you’ll probably forget to communicate something)
  • Anticipate questions–prepare responses (You know they’ll ask some specific questions, so try and address them immediately without their prompting)
  • Practice answering questions (and not with just Yes or No but actual responses)
  • Cover controversial areas ahead of time (Like I said above)
  • Know who will be interviewing you, if possible (If it’s a press conference it may not be feasible).
  • Determine how much time is available (You don’t’ want to go on for too long or be too short)
  • Audiences often remember impressions, not facts (So make a good impression)
  • Do use specifics
  • Do use analogies
  • Do use contrasts, comparisons (if you know some but don’t make them up)
  • Do be enthusiastic / animated (but not too animated…).
  • Do be your casual likable self (As best you can anyway…)
  • Do be a listener (No one likes being cut-off all the time)
  • Do be cool (And I don’t mean the “Fonz”)
  • Do be correct (Know what you’re saying and say it right – don’t be telling fibs)
  • Do be anecdotal
  • If you don’t have the answer or can’t answer, do admit it and move on to another topic (You can always address it in a later interview)

 

Have fun…

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The new book by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3, “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility.”  Available at www.stone-road.com **

 

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