Media Interviews: Tackling Tough Questions

Most media interviews are known to serve up at least one or two difficult questions. To ensure an interview goes smoothly, it is important to review a potential list of topics – especially sensitive subjects – and appropriate talking points in advance. Some of the tougher areas of discussion include:

The competition. When a reporter asks about a competitor, it is always best to remain above board and avoid criticizing other organizations’ products and services. Instead, flip the question to reference your company’s differentiators and what sets you apart in your respective market.

The financials conundrum. For private companies, it is important to show company momentum and growth. However, revealing revenue figures can land you in hot water with investors, clients, partners, etc. The best approach is to politely tell a reporter that you cannot disclose financial information and show growth through new clients (that you are allowed to mention publicly), product innovation or an expanding employee base.

The product roadmap.
Describing a company’s product roadmap without giving away too much detail can be a challenge. Will the roadmap meet expectations or will competitors grab the information and run with it? While reporters will dig for the next big product development, be careful about revealing too much (even if the reporter says the conversation is off-the-record). Instead, share recent developments and what is ahead in the next quarter. Leave bigger developments to larger trend conversations and discuss in general terms.

While the goal is to secure media coverage for your organization, if you are uncomfortable answering a question it is reasonable to let a reporter know that 1) you will follow-up with the information later or 2) you cannot answer the particular question. It is better to withhold information, than say too much and risk undisclosed information running in print.

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