Category: Media Training Tips

Bernie Sanders Interview Walk Off

The Bernie Sanders “Walk Off”: Four Options When Reporters Go Long

A reporter from NBC’s Phoenix affiliate recently interviewed Sen. Bernie Sanders regarding his chances in Tuesday’s Arizona Democratic primary.

After answering one of the reporter’s questions, Sanders stood, removed his microphone, and made clear the interview was over. The resulting video was posted online with the headline: “Bernie Sanders Walks Out of Interview.”

On the surface, that appears like a reasonable headline—but a few relevant facts make clear that’s not exactly what happened. And it leads to a question: What could Sanders have done better?

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Why Good Media Interviews Are Like Threading A Needle

Media trainers often focus on what can go wrong during an interview. As a result, spokespersons can become fearful of the consequences of a badly worded thought.

Those risks are real, of course, but sometimes we don’t do a good enough job of reminding people that in many cases, the majority of interviews they ever give will not be adversarial in nature.

A spokesperson who thinks about what both they and the reporter want from the exchange can succeed at threading the needle between their goals and the reporter’s needs.

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When Throwaway Comments Become Your Lead Quote

Many years ago, a client told me a story that serves as a useful cautionary tale for everyone who interacts with reporters.

The man, who represented a government agency, was friendly with a local reporter. The two socialized after hours on a regular basis, but had an agreement that whenever the reporter called his buddy at the government agency in his professional role, the usual rules of media interviewing would apply.

One day, the reporter called his pal and asked for a comment. Unfortunately, his friend said something he shouldn’t have.

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Speed Limit Signs

Which Speed Limit Sign Drives Home The Strongest Message?

State governments and local jurisdictions want you to slow down while driving for a variety of reasons, including safety, fuel efficiency (cars burn more fuel at higher speeds), and air quality.

But the manner in which they communicate speed restrictions to motorists varies widely.

Are some approaches better than others? Are some signs more likely to get you to slow down while others barely catch your notice? This post features half a dozen examples of the ordinary and the unusual.

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A Spokesperson Must: Remember Whose Name Tag You’re Wearing

When you speak to a reporter on behalf of your organization, it’s rather clear on whose behalf you’re speaking. But I’ve regularly encountered a situation that makes the line harder to distinguish.

That situation occurs when one brand—often an uncontroversial one—partners with a more controversial brand. Sometimes, the uncontroversial brand has received a donation from the more controversial entity—and the spokesperson for the uncontroversial one suddenly feels pressure to stand up for their new partner.

In this post, you’ll see an example of how this dynamic plays out.

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Oops! I Have That Thing You Just Denied Saying On Tape.

I recently heard a story about a company spokesperson who got himself into trouble during a media interview.

While speaking to the reporter, he called one of his group’s critics (and occasional partners) a negative term. When the article came out, his bosses were furious.

He denied everything, insisting that he hadn’t used that term and that the reporter had distorted his words. But there was one thing he didn’t count on.

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One Reporter’s Surprising Admission: “I Lie Constantly”

Glenn Thrush, a reporter for Politico, sent several surprising tweets last week about the promises reporters make—and break—with communications staffers arranging interviews with their principals.

His main argument? It’s acceptable to “lie” to PR pros by promising a favorable story in exchange for access—and then doing the story you want to do anyway.

I’ll let others debate whether or not such lies are acceptable. In this post, I’ll offer some important insight into the mind of a journalist and discuss how that mindset affects you.

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Five Ways To Incriminate Yourself During A Media Interview

I recently came across a funny video clip from the television show Judge Judy that features a young man who didn’t know when to stop talking.

When I finished laughing at his unwitting admission of guilt, I thought about the things spokespersons do that can lead an audience to shift their impressions of them from innocent to guilty in mere moments.

In this post, you’ll read about five mistakes we regularly see during practice interviews with our clients — and learn how to avoid them.

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