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How To Answer Tough Questions #3: “False Frame” Questions

I once worked with an executive from a manufacturing company that was about to introduce an innovative safety feature into one of its products.

The executive was excited. He knew their competitors were several years away from being able to introduce the same technology into their products.

Despite his excitement, he was nervous. Touting the new feature would lead to questions from customers—and reporters—about whether the millions of products the company had already sold without the new safety device were less safe, if not downright unsafe.

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Advanced Media Training Tip: Answer With A Statement

Should you answer questions with a straightforward “yes” or “no” response?

That might work sometimes, but as the author of this terrific guest post points out, there’s often a better way to respond to questions. Using a “statement” response allows you to answer questions on your terms, convey confidence, and make the editor’s life easier.

In this post, you’ll see two examples that illustrate the technique.

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Fighting Back Against False Media Stories: Two Examples

In The Media Training Bible, I included a lesson called “Three Things To Do When You’re Falsely Accused.” One of my recommendations was to consider offering your own proof to rebut a reporter’s incorrect claims:

In some cases, there is a place for harder-edged tactics…That means you might hire a private investigator to look into the background

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Can You Say “I’m Not Here To Talk About That Topic?”

Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, made some controversial comments about Muslims during one of his recent programs, during which he had a well-publicized debate with one of his guests, actor Ben Affleck.

A few days later, Maher was scheduled to give an interview to a reporter from Salon about a

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Advanced Media Training Tip: Push Back In Both Directions

You’ve probably heard this advice before: When a journalist asks you a question containing a flawed premise, you should challenge the question.

That’s smart advice—but it’s also incomplete. That’s because the advice is almost always intended to apply to unfair questions. As an example, a reporter might ask:

“Since your company is suffering from unusually high turnover,

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Advanced Media Training Tip: Tee Up The Next Question

What if there was an almost foolproof way to ensure that reporters ask you the exact question you want them to ask?

There is. Often times, you can “tee up” the next question a reporter will ask you simply by placing it right in front of them.

As an example, imagine that the question you’re asked is

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Why It’s Okay To Drown Your Audience In Statistics

Most communications experts advise that you should never drown your audience in data. They maintain that audiences are unable to remember raw numbers unless you wrap them in context and meaning first.

They’re right—mostly. But there’s one important exception to the rule I’ve never addressed on this blog.

Before sharing that exception to the rule, it’s worth

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Advanced Media Training Tip: Lean Into Accusations

I’ve trained thousands of media spokespersons over the past decade, and there’s one thing that unites almost all of them: when they’re accused of something, they become defensive.

Their defensive reactions may be subtle, indicated by a slight shift in body language, or more severe, conveyed through a frozen “deer-in-headlights” expression. Either way, the audience can

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