Getting Into The Story

You may have had this experience – you land that big opportunity for your lead spokesperson to be interviewed about a subject that is right within her sweet spot. Your spokesperson has “the goods”—all the knowledge and experience needed to hit it out of the park. But, like a tree that falls in the woods that nobody hears, when the story comes out it’s just “crickets.”

Often an organization’s ideas are referenced, but there is no name mentioned or quote included. While exasperating, in my experiences, this is usually caused by one of the following:

  • No simple and compelling message was delivered.
  • Too much information was presented, which buried the “big idea” under a blizzard of facts, jargon, or acronyms.
  • The spokesperson answered the questions but didn’t control the interview’s agenda to create a narrative that could be incorporated into the article.
  • Answers were long and confusing, making it hard to hone into a quote.

You may hear your spokesperson’s disappointment expressed as the interview being “a waste of time,” or “reporters just don’t get it.” Try not to blame the reporter and try to fix the problem through coaching and training.

A good communications officer will have observed the interview, whether by phone or in person, so she can offer constructive feedback immediately.

Always practice and coach spokespeople before the interview and practice the message and bridging techniques.

Don’t forget your “action message” that tells the reader or vieer/listener what to do about a problem.

With good planning and practice you can avoid most failures.