Public Relations Interview Techniques: Dodging Uncomfortable Questions

I started off my PR career as Executive Strategy and Planning with a well-known PR agency. My department conducted 2-3 media trainings per month and I was responsible for preparing the module, simulation and mock interview questions, researching information relevant to the industry etc. During my tenure, I attended almost all the trainings that were conducted by the agency.

I observed that you may be the CEO of the company, an expert in your field but when it comes to facing the media you will consider hiring a media trainer.

After entering Corporate Communication, I experimented with the module a bit, customized it as per my organization and started conducting media training workshops.

There are many write-ups on preparing for a television, print or telephonic interview. They tell us to find out about the interview topic, agenda and the format; be prepared with your messages, company information – the business, achievements, awards and recognitions; they also tell us to keep the answers short; what to wear and of course to brush our teeth.

Keeping all the above in mind, the spokesperson goes to the interview all prepared and confident, ready with the company messages. Now the journalist is someone you cannot take for granted, they might have shared details of the topics to be covered during the interview, but they have their own agenda and already have their story visualized. They know exactly what to extract from the company spokesperson.

You may have your points or set of company specific messages ready but you will observe the journalist moving away from them to more controversial and uncomfortable topics. You obviously cannot answer those questions as they may open further questions that you may not be allowed to disclose.

Now dodging those questions may get a little difficult in front of the camera. Below are some statements that can be used to safely move away from those painful topics to the talk points you came prepared with:

“You are raising a very important issue here BUT you must first consider….”

“To some degree, but the point here is…”

“Not really and even more important…”

“There’s another part of the mix you must look at…”

“I really don’t see that as an issue, but what I do see…”

“I don’t know. But what I do know is…”

“However the real concern is…”

“That’s not my area of expertise, but I think the audience would be more interested to kow…”

“Let me answer you by saying that…”

“The solution here is…”

Kenneth Peter —


2 Responses to Public Relations Interview Techniques: Dodging Uncomfortable Questions

  1. PR Biz says:

    Very useful information for all Public Relations Professionals. Good Read

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