[page_counter]

7 bad media interview mistakes (and how to avoid them)

January 19, 2016

You could shoot to fame for all the wrong reasons if a bad media interview goes viral.

Unprepared, rude or flippant comments you make can damage your reputation and that of your company in seconds. At best, a bad media interview is a wasted opportunity to spread your message and raise your profile.

Here are seven signs of a bad media interview, together with four examples of people who need some media training. Quick.

 

Bad Media Interview Mistakes | 1. The CEO doesn’t answer the question.

Journalists’ most newsworthy questions are often the ones you don’t want to answer. You might be tempted to ignore them or just answer the one you wish you’d been asked, but unfortunately this won’t work. It might even stoke the fire, drawing attention to the fact that you don’t actually have a satisfactory response for the real question.

Instead, use the bridging technique: acknowledge and respond to the question, then link your answer to one of the key messages you want to convey, so you can regain control of the interview.

Bad media interview mistakes | How not to do it – Shantung Narayen is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Adobe Systems. Notice how he repeatedly avoids answering a direct question in this media interview:

Help Me Give Great Media Interviews

Bad Media Interview Mistakes | 2. The CEO bad-mouths others.

Sometimes a CEO feels cornered, and wants to point the finger of blame elsewhere. Sometimes, negative media attention focuses unfairly on one company’s processes, while a competitor seems to be getting away with it. At other times, ill-judged humour backfires.

Whatever the cause, rise above it and resist bad-mouthing others. The media-fluent CEO remains nice at all times when speaking about journalists, competitors, former employers and any other stakeholders during interviews.

Bad Media Interview Mistakes | 3. The CEO doesn’t  prepare for negative questions.

The media pays journalists to dig beneath the story given to them and find a unique, newsworthy angle. In addition, you’re more likely to be given media time and attention during a crisis or controversy.

Write down the tough questions that might be asked and rehearse your responses until you can respond calmly. Use the exact words and phrases that you want to be published or broadcast saying. Schedule formal mock media interviews to help you practice under pressure.

Bad media interview mistakes | How not to do it – Peter Ward is the Chief Executive of the British Dental Association. He was asked about the dangers of amalgam fillings in this media interview. This was his unexpected response:

Help Me Give Great Media Interviews

Bad Media Interview Mistakes | 4. The CEO doesn’t correct mistakes immediately.

If you don’t fix any misunderstandings during the interview, then the journalist will write and publish their interpretation of what you said.

Instead, quickly say, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I explained that very clearly. What I meant is…” to ensure the correct message reaches the audience.

Bad Media Interview Mistakes | 5. The CEO doesn’t prepare proof, examples and stories.

If you lack the detail to back up what you say, you will quickly run into trouble.

Instead, create a ‘message house’: draw a house with three ground floor rooms, three top floor rooms and a roof on top.

Write your overall message in the roof of the house. The three top floor rooms should contain up to three sub-messages. Beneath each of these sub-messages write the proof, examples and stories that back up each of those sub-messages and bring them to life for your audience.

Then practice. The best CEOs constantly refine and stress test their messaging with mock media interviews. Sufficient practice will ensure you are fully prepared, confident and in control when the time comes.
Help Me Give Great Media Interviews
Bad media interview mistakes | How not to do it – This radio interview is from the political world and features Natalie Bennett from the Green Party. It shows how quickly confidence in a message is lost without the necessary evidence and detail to back it up:

Bad Media Interview Mistakes | 6. The CEO uses jargon.

Powerful communicators use simple language, with no hackneyed phrases or long words. The audience may differ in their grasp of your industry’s jargon. Therefore, speaking simply and clearly will ensure the maximum of people understand what you are trying to convey.

Bad Media Interview Mistakes | 7. The CEO doesn’t know who the end audience is or why they are doing the media interview.

The interviewer is just your route to the audience. Think of media interviews as an opportunity to engage your target audience without having to pay.

Research the journalist and their publication before agreeing to anything. What angle are they planning for the piece? What have they published on this (or similar topics) previously? The more challenging the interviewer or his/her angle is likely to be, the higher the risk of a bad media interview.

Bad media interview mistakes | How not to do it – Tony Hayward was previously the CEO of BP. He committed a string of media interview gaffes following the Mexico Gulf oil disaster, including stating he wanted his ‘life back’ during this apology on behalf of the company:

How to avoid a bad media interview experience

Click here to read how to use a dress rehearsal to prepare for your next media interview, and our five checks to ensure media interview-readiness.
Help Me Give Great Media Interviews

What Next

Benjamin Ball Associates prepares and coaches CEOs for media interviews. We can help you with every aspect including words, stories, messages and appearance.

Call our Client Services Director Louise Angus on 020 7018 0922 to discuss your needs and how we can best support you.

You may also be interested in...

Fundraising Presentations: a survive and thrive guide for talking to investors

Apr 21, 2017

Fundraising presentations are hard work. You're bombarded with challenging questions from investors, worn out by long days, and struggling to...

Read More

Persuasive Investor Presentations – five techniques from psychology

Apr 13, 2016

Investment decision-making is not totally rational. Are you using all the tools at your disposal to create and deliver persuasive...

Read More

Five reasons that good public speaking skills make you a better leader

Nov 11, 2016

Do your public speaking skills inspire, motivate and influence others? They should. Many leaders are nervous of public speaking. Some...

Read More

Ten Benefits Of A Better Investor Pitch Book

May 10, 2018

A great investor pitch book is at the heart of successful fundraising.  It should capture the essence of your business...

Read More

Why Body Language Matters When Pitching to Win Business

Jun 29, 2012

Better Body Language We all know that body language is important in business.  But how important? And does is really...

Read More

Private Equity Fundraising Tips from the Experts: Become a Top 1% Fund

Sep 06, 2017

How can you be seen as a top 1% fund by investors? At SuperReturn Emerging Markets in Amsterdam, experienced LPs...

Read More

How you can create a powerful elevator pitch

Mar 07, 2016

A great elevator pitch is an essential part of your toolkit Last month I chaired the Quickfire Showcase at Berlin’s...

Read More

How to Take Charge of Your Media Interviews

Jan 16, 2013

Better Media Interviews The excruciating Newsnight interview with Treasury Minister Chloe Smith this summer is just one example of how poor preparation...

Read More

How To Write So People Will Read – 6 Great Tips

Mar 11, 2018

These days, we are writing more than ever.  That means it’s harder than ever to grab attention.  Your readers have...

Read More

How well do you answer difficult investor questions?

Nov 16, 2017

When an investor questions how you calculated your Private Equity fund's performance, how do you react? If an investor asks...

Read More

How to Choose a Public Speaking Coach

Aug 21, 2017

How do you choose a public speaking coach? When selecting a public speaking coach or presentation trainer, you want to work...

Read More

10 Power Language techniques to use in your next talk or presentation

Sep 06, 2017

How To Harness Powerful Language For Leadership Communications Great leaders use Power Language to add interest and colour to what...

Read More

The “So What?” Test

Dec 30, 2009

When you put your talk or presentation together, how do you decide what to include and what to leave out?  Use...

Read More

Private equity fundraising | Seven tips for first investor meetings

Dec 10, 2015

What do LPs want from private equity funds at first investor meetings? That's the question I put to the panel...

Read More

What do investors want? Six pitch tips for 2017

Sep 21, 2016

While we wrote this piece with our Private Equity clients in mind, there are good lessons here for anyone pitching...

Read More

Give high impact talks and presentations – 5 simple tips

Mar 01, 2017

Do you want to give high impact talks and presentations? Do you want to engage your audience? And do you want...

Read More

Storytelling: your secret weapon for effective business communication

Jul 05, 2017

Leaders use storytelling so that audiences listen, remember and act on what they say. In fact, stories are “the single...

Read More

Make Your Investment Pitch More Memorable – Six Simple Tips

Mar 29, 2017

How do you make your investment pitch more memorable? It's a real challenge these days. Investors have more opportunities than...

Read More

Three persuasive appeals you must use in your talks and presentations

Nov 30, 2016

Your leadership talks need to be persuasive As a leader, every talk or presentation you give is an exercise in persuasion....

Read More

What do LPs want from your private equity pitch book?

Oct 14, 2015

A well-crafted private equity pitch book can make the difference between securing a first meeting with investors and getting a...

Read More

ESSENTIAL PROGRAMMES

Review our top coaching, advice and training programmes.

1. Improve Your Investor Pitch

2. Public Speaking Coaching

3. Presentation Coaching

4. Media Training
All these are in-house programmes. (Not ‘open’ courses.) and can be run as 1:1 or small group training in-house.
Contact Us Now

.

Top Blog Posts

What Our Clients Say


“The new presentation properly represents the institutional quality of our fund. It has been a step change of us.”

Erwin de Kleijn Head of IR, Saemor Capital


“This training has contributed directly to new business – including a new FTSE100 client.”

Michelle Elstein Head of Business Development, Olswang LLP


“BBA transformed our pitch into a compelling investment narrative. They undoubtedly helped us secure Sky TV as an investor.”

Gerry Bastable  Director, Blast Films