It’s getting harder every day to be an effective spokesperson.
When speaking with a reporter be wary of common tricks they use to get you to say something you shouldn’t. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t guess or pretend you know what you’re talking about. A journalist might also ask you a theoretical question, but don’t fall for it. It’s inevitably a trap.
Just because you don’t like the question doesn’t mean you can ignore it.
Refusing to answer makes a spokesperson look guilty.
Reporters are trained to be disarming, and they might make a spokesperson feel so comfortable that you think you’re talking to a friend. Everything you say, especially the very last question is fair game and can be used against you. Assume the video camera or recording device is on at all times, and be particularly wary of wireless microphones attached to your lapel. Muttering under your breath can be heard, and it counts. Just because the video camera is pointing away or to the ground doesn’t mean the reporter can’t hear you and won’t use the “sound bite!”
It’s OK to ask a journalist to repeat a question if you don’t understand it. They might ask it in a different way that makes it easier for you to answer, plus, while they are figuring out a way to rephrase the question for you, it buys you time to think.
5 Communication Tips from Jeff Ansell to help you be a better spokesperson;
- Don’t speculate or answer a hypothetical question
- Never say “No Comment!”
- There’s no such thing as “Off the Record”
- Presume you’re always being recorded
- Don’t answer a question you don’t fully understand
*ask for clarification or rephrasing of the question