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The 10 Commandments of Communications Under Pressure

February 13th, 2017

Facing the news media can be nerve-racking even under the best conditions. Now imagine yourself in a crisis or emergency situation facing hostile reporters who want answers to their tough questions. What would you do? What do you say?

Below are 10 basic commandments for answering tough questions from reporters:

  1. Be yourself; be comfortable and confident – take a deep breath and relax: remember that you probably know more about your subject than the audience.
  2. Be honest: if you don’t know the answer to a question, admit it rather than jeopardize your credibility.
  3. Be brief; be human: don’t be afraid to be yourself – it will look genuine.
  4. Be personal: use personal stories and anecdotes to convey an idea or concept.
  5. Be positive and consistent: set your goals for the interview and keep them in mind, controlling and focusing your material toward them.  Establish your SOCO (Single Overriding Communication Objective) and state it, over and over again.
  6. Be attentive: concentrate, listen carefully to questions.
  7. Be energetic – without going over-the-top: use gestures, subtle facial expressions and appropriate body language to add vitality to your words.
  8. Be committed and sincere: don’t be afraid to pause.  Avoid, or respond appropriately, to the “buzzwords” that reporters use to get interviewees to react, such as:  Why are you lying?; Are you embarrassed by …(your job, your company, your company’s position/record/etc.)?
  9. Never repeat the buzzword in your answer: Do not restate the allegation or negative statement used against you.  Rather, just replace it with your positive response or SOCO.  Don’t waste valuable media time saying what you don’t do or what you are not.  Just say your SOCO.  Always be positive.
  10. Don’t attack the media: be respectful and kind.  Don’t play into the attack game.





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