Briefing a client for interview is an important part of a PR practitioner’s role. There’s nothing more humiliating than a client going on live TV to be interviewed and the person finding themselves either stuck on what to say or in the worst and most common scenario saying all the wrong things!
I don’t think anyone will forget this famous interview of Jeremy Paxman and Michael Howard where Paxman asked Howard the same question 12 times, to which he still didn’t give a straight answer. Not only is this humiliating for the person themselves, but it’s also cringeworthy for the audience at home to watch. The TV companies however love it since some people think it makes brilliant television.
Politicians are known to be the worst clients for avoiding questions during interviews. Remember the BBC interview with George Osbourne who continually repeated the fact that the ‘bad weather’ was to blame for the poor economic growth in December. I mean really? The snow did all that?
Here are some key points that I think are important to remember when briefing a client for interview:
- Always answer the question!
- Bridge from the question to your key message using and/also/but
- Make sure you try and use at least one key message in each response you give
- Don’t use jargon
- Ask yourself ‘so what?’ to each response you give- if it’s not important, don’t say it!
- Remember the 3 ‘R’s in a crisis interview- regret, reason, remedy- apologise for what has happened, explain why it’s happened and discuss what you’re going to do about it
If only one or two of the above points are remembered during interviews it will ensure that the interview goes smoothly and is successful for both the interviewee and the viewer at home.