Interacting with the media is full of pitfalls and land mines. Even the most experienced media spokesperson worries about a media blunder during an interview at some point in their career. However, they can generally avoid blunders by following a few simple rules.You can do the same if you keep in mind these five tips:

1) Don’t repeat negative words or phrases

Your message and talking points should always be positive and upbeat. If you have negative press associated with your business, do not repeat those negative allegations. Instead, find a positive theme you can sincerely take pride in discussing. For example, if your company has mass layoffs, talk about any job training, additional benefits or assistance you are offering the displaced work force. Interviews tend to naturally gravitate to negative themes so plan for this with a strategy to address them with positive alternatives.

2) Don’t go “off the record”

There is no such thing as “off the record” or responses that remain private between you and the reporter. It is the reporter’s job to get the story, and they are under no obligation to agree to keep your comments or identity secret. Assume that anything you say is available to print or broadcast in the reporter’s story and act and/or react accordingly.

3) Don’t get emotional or angry with a reporter

It is part of a reporter’s job to ask probing or tough questions. Be professional and keep your composure if you feel you are being ambushed or caught off guard with difficult questions. The camera is always rolling and you are never “off the record,” so your every reaction is being scrutinized.

4) Don’t use industry jargon

The use of industry jargon can alienate a typical viewer of a story. It can also confuse a reporter if the same jargon is used in a different industry and the meaning changes from industry to industry. To reduce confusion, don’t use jargon at all. Break down the meaning or use “layman’s terms” when possible. Briefly explain the term if needed. Nothing causes a blunder quicker than not speaking the same “language”!

5) Don’t ask for questions upfront

Reporters are supposed to be objective disseminators of the news. For this reason, they don’t normally provide you with the questions to an interview in advance. You also should never ask for those questions either. To do so may appear like you have something to hide or conceal leading a reporter to possibly “dig” for negative information that doesn’t exist.

Reduce your chances of a media blunder with these easy tips and have fun with your upcoming interviews.

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