Welcome to my B2BMediaTraining blog some small thoughts on life, the universe and dealing with the press from someone who crossed over from practitioner to teacher. The following selection of short articles provides an off-beat (and unashamedly tongue-in-cheek) insight into the many different aspects of the media, along with hints and tips for better communication and an understanding into what gets journalists reaching for their pens, tablets or smartphones to cover your story...
According to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter Nick Robinson, politicians should be brave enough to say ‘I don’t know’ if they’re asked a question to which they don’t have an answer― rather than try to cover up any lack of knowledge with some meaningless sound bite. He’s right of course. Better to admit from the start that you don’t have an answer, than to try to waffle your way through as the chances are you’ll only end-up digging yourself into an even-deeper hole. It’s strange that whenever someone asks us a question, we almost feel obliged to answer it immediately, even if we haven’t a clue what to say. Not to answer seems almost like bad manners, or worse still a sign of evasion. And besides, who wants to admit their ignorance? Better to appear as if you know the answer, even if you don’t.
Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious at the beginning of an event what are the real facts behind it. New information has a way of regularly popping-up along the way which then changes the whole complexion of things. If (as the cliché goes) it’s not over till it’s over, it’s probably better to wait till it really is over before you say anything.
Of course, that doesn’t stop journalists asking you questions while things are still unfolding. But unless you have a particularly good idea of exactly what's happening I’d be extremely wary of trying to bluff your way through or worse guessing―as you could end up guessing wrong.
So, if you are asked a question that you can’t answer, or to comment upon something that’s still unraveling, save yourself a lot of bother and subsequent backtracking and simply admit you don’t know. It’s not a crime. Besides, the media is just as likely to come back to you, especially if you’ve got something cogent to say when all the dust has settled. Just remember that the first thought that pops into your head isn’t necessarily the best. If you’re not sure of the answer, hit pause and find out what’s really happening. For as Bill Gates famously said: ‘I don’t know has become I don’t know yet.’