Why There’s No Such Thing as an “Official” Interview

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 22, 2013 – 6:02 am

This is an excerpt from my new book, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview, now available in soft cover and all major e-book formats.

Imagine you have a television interview scheduled with a reporter. The handsome TV news personality arrives at your office, the crew sets up the cameras and lights, and the interview begins.

Fifteen minutes fly by in what seem like seconds, and before you know it, the interview is over. You feel good. Even though the reporter asked a few tricky questions, you were prepared and handled them well.

As the crew packs up, you make some polite small talk with the reporter. He casually asks you about one of your competitors, and you make a mildly negative comment about their work. When the piece airs, you’re shocked to find that the reporter introduces the story by quoting your offhand, off-camera remark about your competitor.

You may feel betrayed, but the reporter didn’t do anything wrong. The interview didn’t officially “begin” when the cameraman pressed the record button or “end” when he turned it off. Anything you say before, during, or after the “official” interview—including any telephone or email exchanges—can be quoted in a news story.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid talking to reporters in the downtime before and after the “official” interview. But use that time to restate your most important messages—not verbatim, but by advancing the main themes you want them to remember.

Case Study: Carly Fiorina’s Hairy Situation

In June 2010, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina won her primary bid to become California’s Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The morning after her win, Ms. Fiorina sat in a television studio awaiting a post-victory interview with a local Sacramento news program. Seconds before the interview began, Ms. Fiorina turned to an aide and made a nasty comment about her Democratic opponent, Senator Barbara Boxer.

She scoffed, “[A friend] saw Barbara Boxer briefly on television this morning and said what everyone says—‘God, what is that hair? Sooo yesterday.’”

Ms. Fiorina stopped herself when she realized she was being recorded. But it was too late. CNN posted the raw tape on its website, fueling an unfortunate story line about Fiorina’s “catty” remarks. The next day’s headlines focused more on her “hair” comments than on her victory, creating a public relations nightmare for her campaign.

Ms. Fiorina never fully recovered. In a political year that favored the Republican Party, she lost to Boxer by double digits.

The Media Training Bible is available from Amazon here and for the Kindle here. For other eBook formats and to read free sample lessons, click here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Media and Presentation Training Workshops

Attend one of our fast-moving and content-rich workshops! You'll receive personalized feedback in a small-group setting that helps you become a more effective speaker.


Next workshop: August 26-27, 2014

Only one more slot open!

VIEW FULL SCHEDULE

Join our email list to get our 21 most essential media training tips

An Amazon #1 PR Bestseller: The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need To Know Before Your Next Interview. Learn more.

  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

    Brad Phillips

    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

  • Comments or Tips?

  • Media Requests

    To book Brad Phillips for a media interview, please e-mail Contact@MrMediaTraining.com
  • In The News

    Click here to see media coverage of Brad Phillips and the Mr. Media Training Blog.
  • Media Training

    Click here for more information about our customized media training workshops. To book a media training workshop, e-mail Info@PhillipsMediaRelations.com