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Whoops! I didn’t mean to say that…

January 14, 2015 by Alex Johnson

There’s nothing worse than having to exercise your crisis management skills when the crisis is entirely of your own making. Steve Emerson (he of #foxnewsfacts fame) and Gordon Taylor of the PFA have had to do just that. Both have been pilloried on social media and in the press for highly inflammatory comments made in prime time broadcast interviews over the last week. I expect, as a result, they are now making some belated New Year’s resolutions about ‘not putting feet in mouth’ during media interviews.

When I’m media training, delegates often cite ‘saying the wrong thing’ as a big concern and with examples like Taylor and Emerson out there who can blame them? But, there are some key learnings we can take from these poor performances:

crisis-media-training

Know your facts – Opinions are just that but if you are citing something as fact – make sure it is one. Don’t be goaded into saying something you know not to be true or respond with half-truths because you think you should know. Do your research before interviews and stick to it.

Prepare – Particularly for seasoned spokespeople it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting your guard down and just ‘winging it’. Every interview is different. Know what your key messages are and prepare for any difficult questions.

Think about your audience – An interview is for them not you or the interviewer. It certainly isn’t a soapbox. Put yourself in their shoes and think how they may react to your opinions and comments.

Say sorry – Be prepared to acknowledge when you get it wrong (which both Emerson and Taylor did) and make it genuine.

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