Media Point

Welcome to “Media Point”, the RCI Media Training newsletter. Each issue features techniques for handling tough media interviews, building relationships with reporters, and a host of insider tips on how reporters operate. We offer tips and techniques for doing presentations as well.

Bridging over Troubled Water
Bridging is an essential interview tool to use when you're faced with a confrontational or difficult question you don't want to answer. It's the technique of transitioning away from the question to a topic you DO want to discuss.

Bridging is most effective when you have something newsworthy to discuss that will give the reporter a good story. Bridging to old news, a weak statement, or a canned answer won't get you anywhere fast.

Here's an imaginary exchange between a Wall Street Journal reporter and the top executive of a chain of clothing stores, FashionCool:

Reporter: Internal sources tell me FashionCool is laying off more than 1,000 employees at the end of the month. Can you confirm this?

(Note that the reporter is using a time-tested technique - letting the executive know [or assume] that she has the information and is simply asking for confirmation. If she is sure of her sources, she will probably run the layoff story with or without the executive's response.)

Executive: At this point in time, I can't confirm or deny the information you have, but what I can tell you is our new hip-hop jeans line is breaking all sales records. In fact, while we haven't announced this yet, we are adding staff in that division so we can handle the record-breaking demand. He then goes on to give details.

The executive has made a point of telling the reporter she is the first to get information about FashionCool adding staff. For a reporter, "previously unannounced news" is the holy grail. Assuming that the news has been approved internally, the executive should then give as many facts and figures to support the jeans' sales growth, thus giving the reporter a strong and interesting story she might not have known about otherwise.
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If the reporter continues to ask about the lay offs, our executive needs to return to his initial "I can't confirm or deny" statement as often as necessary, while still continuing to give newsworthy facts and figures. He also needs to remember:
  • never lie -- it will catch up with you
  • never say no comment - to a reporter it means "guilty as charged"

Check out upcoming issues of The Media Point for more information on these and other important interview skills and techniques.
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The RCI Book Club

How to Make the Most of Every Media Appearance In this section, we'll recommend Media Training or PR related books - and other books we've enjoyed reading. This month's recommendation:

How to Make the Most of Every Media Appearance
by George Merlis
George is the former executive producer of "Good Morning America." Learn more

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