I had dreams of writing speeches and media releases for former President Barack Obama. He was so eloquent and I enjoyed watching him speak and conduct interviews with the press. I would have happily been one of the members of his communication team. The current US president, not so much. He has been a model example of what not to do when speaking to the press and the public.
Truthfully, the media habits of many politicians across the Caribbean, mirror that of President Trump rather than President Obama. They get in front of a microphone or respond to a question from a journalist in a way that immediately shouts “I am not prepared” and “Why are you accusing me?” The difference between their crafted campaign rhetoric and every day communication is so vast, you wonder if it is the same person.
Even if you no longer have access to the 10k a day campaign speech writer, you can present the best version of yourself every time.
- Be clear on the end game. Is it to give public assurance that all is well, squash a rumor, or provide information?
- Write it down. Even if you will not read from your notes, identify the key talking points that you must hit in your interview.
- Stick to the script. Reporters will want to take you off topic. Don’t let them. Stick to the points you want to make clear to the readers/listeners.
- Do NOT Lie. If you are found out, you will not hear the end of it.
- Never say No Comment. Keep it simple and say an update will be given once more information is received.
- Let a more technically knowledgeable staff member answer the tough questions. It is never possible for the politician to have all of the answers. You can lead on the interview then hand off to the technician with the specifics. It does not diminish your position but rather sends the message you are leading a team which has a handle on the issue.
- Follow up with any information you promised to the press in a timely manner.
You can make the best of every media appearance with a bit of preparation.
Nerissa Golden is a media strategist and head of Goldenmedia LLC. She writes on entrepreneurship, leveraging technology and media to improve lives and communities. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.