Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hostile interview training

I'm going on a press tour soon, something I haven't done in a while, so this week I attended a special training class that our agency conducts for people like me. The instructor, Betsy, is an old pro who worked as a television reporter for many years and really knows the business. I was particularly interested in learning techniques for dealing with a journalist who is less than friendly, perhaps hostile and predisposed to report negatively.

Here's some of what I learned:

  • News articles are called "stories" for a reason, so make your information memorable, through personal anecdotes, colorful language, or proof points.
  • Don't talk unless you're ready. Unless it's a live TV interview, dead air is your friend. Go ahead and pause as long as you like, until you know precisely what you want to say and how.
  • Quit when you're ahead. When you say transition words like "in additional" or "plus", that's usually your cue that you need to shut up and wait for another question.
  • Bring it back to customers, particularly on tough questions. Say "our customers tell us…"

The highlight of the class was the practice interviews. Here's my first one of the day, with me trying to explain our product. What do you think? Should I try to say "really" more often?


Video: Interview Question #1

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