Ever had a conversation go entirely off track, and felt you couldn’t get it back onto your topic? That often happens to people who are new to being interviewed by the news media.
To a reporter, a question is an instrument used to dig out information. Depending on your answer, the reporter can end up exploring topics you’d rather not talk about.
You’ll be better armed for the interview if you know how to steer the conversation back on track. Using techniques such as blocking and bridging, you can return to your key messages – the points you wanted to make with the reporter in the first place.
But be subtle about it. Reporters dislike dealing with spokespersons who dodge questions and toss up smokescreens. And too many media trainers seem to teach that stonewalling is all you need for interview success.
You see the results all too often. Reporters are starting to challenge spokespersons more than ever before, often with lines such as “You didn’t answer my question. Can’t you just give me a straight answer?”
At Interplay Creative Media, we contend that interviews are places where you and a reporter can find common ground. You should answer the questions, but you should also know when you have said enough. There is always a point at which you should stop talking. And you should also know how to steer the conversation back to the information points you wanted to communicate without having the reporter accusing you of refusing to co-operate.