3 Places to Insert Messages

This piece is excerpted from Andy Gilman's article "Top Execs Don’t Have Much Time for Coaching: Focus on These 3 Tips" in the PR News Media Training Guidebook, Volume 6.

Question: When is the best time to communicate a message during an interview? Answer: Whenever you can. There are three easy places to insert messages. At the start, during the interview and on the last question:

1. At the start, frame the subject. One of our clients is very assertive when he starts an interview. First, he prepares. Then he will start: “I know you have many questions for me. If you want to ask, go ahead. However, I just came back from a customer presentation that is close to the topic you want to discuss. We spent 45 minutes on 2 slides. If you want, I’ll email you those slides. Ask me questions about this presentation and at the end if you have other questions, please ask them.” This executive says 8 of 10 reporters let him start this way.

2. Pivoting. Our rule. Answer the question and then use bridging phrases. No one phrase
will work every time. Have several ready to use: “But” and “however” are classic phrases. Other phrases, depending on the question, include, “Actually, that’s not the data we have seen,” or “I can’t answer the first part of your question since I’m not our best expert on that subject, but here’s what I can say,” or “I can’t answer that because of HIPAA or employee confidentiality rules, but for that kind of information, I can refer you to____, “ and “What I can say? I’m sure our competitors would love to know that information as well, here’s what I can share....”

3. At the end of an interview. Most good reporters will close an interview with “Is there anything else you want to share?” or “Is there something I forgot to ask you?” Reporters almost always want your best information. They also know that they aren’t perfect, so these questions give you a chance to score a message. Some reporters either are in too much of a rush or don’t want to betray a lack of knowledge about you and your business, so they won’t ask these traditional ending questions. Be ready for this and make sure you close the interview by saying, “Let me wrap up with one or two points.”

Andy Gilman is president-CEO of CommCore Consulting. [email protected]