“When bad news strikes, the media and the public are quick to make up their minds about you,” said Ansell. “Reporters can show up at your business anytime. How you respond speaks volumes about who you are.”
As a result, Ansell shared what he referred to as “the rules of the game” when talking to the media.
12 Do’s and Don’ts for Communicating With Confidence:
1) When you mess up, ‘fess up.
2) Remember there is no such thing as “off the record.”
3) Don’t change your story mid-interview.
4) Be aware that cameras are always rolling, even before interviews begin.
5) Don’t snap at people who ask you questions that you don’t like.
6) Be mindful of political correctness and gender insensitivity.
7) When the heat is on, don’t get defensive, especially if your business is accused of being sleazy and unethical.
8) Don’t trivialize problems experienced by your customers.
9) Media interviews and public appearances are not the appropriate time to engage in a confession.
10) Don’t be too quick to take your lawyer’s advice when you are dealing with a bad news issue.
11) Don’t repeat negative words that might convince people you are guilty.
12) Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
How to Tell a Business’ Story
“You never know what questions you might be asked by a reporter---some are straightforward; some are curve-ball, off-the-wall, leading questions, loaded questions, politically incorrect and uncomfortable questions,” said Ansell. “Knowing the right thing to say during media interviews, especially during stressful times, isn’t easy.”
Ansell acknowledged that it’s easy to get angry at reporters or customers, especially when they are aggressive. After interviewing and training thousands of people over his career, Ansell has observed that when people are put on the spot and the question gets tough, they often experience a physiological default.
“When hijacked by a question, we teeter on the precipice of fight or flight,” he said. “Do I stay here and answer this in-my-face question, freeze or flee? Our sole objective is survival, which is easier said than done.”