Reporter Techniques in Action

by Dan Ward

As part of the Message Matrix® training program we offer clients, we often review a number of “reporters’ techniques” in order to prepare clients for potential interviews.

So you can imagine how I enjoyed sitting across from a reporter this week who used a number of such techniques while interviewing one of my clients.  Here are just a few examples:

False facts (unintentional or deliberate) – “But what about the $150 million number we keep hearing?”

Response:  Correct graciously and go to your positive point.

“We are unfamiliar with that number.  What we can tell you is …”

Reinterpretation of your response – “Would you consider that senator to be a champion for your industry?”  “We’ve worked with him, but wouldn’t consider him a champion.”  “Well, what has he said or done to make you think that he is working against you?”

Response:  Avoid repeating negative words.

“What we’re saying is that he hasn’t been a vocal champion for the industry” (which is far different from suggesting he is an opponent).

Putting words in your mouth – “So you agree that this problem is rampant in the industry.”

Response:  Recognize this as an attempt to make you use words you would rather not say.

“Actually, according to a state report, the issue is nowhere near as common as some might suggest.”

Needling – “Oh, come on.  You’re telling me you don’t keep that kind of information?”

Response:  Stick to your guns.

“No.  We have no reason to maintain that kind of information.  What we can tell you is …”

The interview went very well, and it gave me an opportunity to remind our client of one of the important points we teach in Message Matrix® training.  You have granted an interview, but you’re not under subpoena.  No one can make you say anything but you.


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