PR: The Good, Bad and Ugly
Even Experts Need Talking Points
by Jennifer Fair on 06/19/2012
Most people become spokespeople in one of two ways – either you were selected because you are an expert or you were thrown into the heat of the fire during a crisis and someone thinks that you know what you are talking about.
Do you have your talking points ready? Every media situation is different, but when you go into any interview, you need to have some key bullet points in your mind about what your company does and the main message that you want to get across.
From time to time, I hear people say that they don’t need to practice or have talking points because “they’re an expert.” But the truth is, it’s pretty rare to see people ace an interview without spending a few minutes thinking about it ahead of time. Here are five reasons why:
- You know too much. It’s true – you were selected to be a spokesperson because of your extensive knowledge on a topic. But that same breadth of knowledge can also get you into trouble. How many times have you seen interviews with spokespeople who later claim that their sound bite was taken out of context? This can be avoided by sticking to your talking points and not going into extensive detail that isn’t needed.
- Camera lights are scary. Even the most outgoing person can freeze when TV reporters have microphones in their faces and a bright light shining in their eyes. Developing and practicing your talking points before an interview will help keep you focused so that even if you momentarily blank, you have a prepared statement to fall back on and launch you into your thought.
- You have a story to tell. Whether it’s a positive story or a crisis, you have a key message to get across. If you stick to your talking points, it will come through. But if you forget your message and don’t tell the reporter what you want to say, that message will never make it out to the general public. Remember, the reporter is asking you the questions, but it’s your story. Help them tell it!
- Reporters have a job to do. Reporters are trained to ask questions three times before giving up. That means that you may hear them ask you the same thing in three very different ways – your answer should be the same all three times. Having talking points, and practicing them before you go into an interview, will help ensure this consistency across the board.
- Interview consistency is key to positive PR. When different reporters from different media outlets interview you, it can be easy to forget who you said what to. By having talking points, and sticking to them, your story is consistent across all media and no one can say that you are not being honest and open.
What is your biggest fear about media interviews? How often do you practice before going in front of a camera? We would love to hear your stories!
Photo Source: Mr. T in DC