Remember the telephone game? Everyone at some point in their lives has played the telephone game, or a variation of it. You know the game you played in grade school or in a college class to show that each individual will interpret the same message completely different than someone seated next to them. Even after college the game still proves its importance and is a staple in nearly all corporate Human Resources trainings that I have participated in.
So, why is the telephone game important to a PR staff? Because the game reinforces the fact that everyone that is consumer or public facing needs to be on point with their messaging. Nothing hurts a company or a brand if those people entrusted with external and internal messaging are free-wheeling and left to call an audible with their talking points. You never want to see a corporate spokesperson’s interview go sideways.
“Loose lips might sink ships” was originally used as part of messaging crafted during World War II about the need to be careful about what is said so as to not aid the enemy. But, you can argue to a degree that a “loosed lip” spokesperson can be equally as
An athlete, a singer, and an artist all practice their talents to perfection so when the time is right they’re able to perform at a high-level. That’s why a company and its spokespeople need to be dialed in and ready to deliver clear concise perfect responses that leave no doubt what the intended message
Here are 13 lucky ways to share with your executives and spokespeople so they’ll be on point:
- Educate yourself. Your PR team has created interview notes detailing the reporter and the outlet and the subject matter – make sure you read these
- Practice, practice, practice
- Remember to be relaxed – you’ll get better results if you remember that the interviewer is human too
- Be on time – no one likes to wait
- Maintain eye contact and relaxed breathing
- Never mislead – relay the information that you currently have in your possession to the best of your ability. If you need to update the reporter after the interview as new information becomes available then coordinate with the PR team
- Never go rogue – stay on the script. DO NOT INTERPRET and don’t speculate
- It’s not a sin if you don’t have an answer – politely explain that you will track down that answer and get back with the reporter
- Think before you speak – sometimes a journalist will phrase a question in a way that doesn’t make sense to you. Ask for a clarification
- All businesses have things that are critical to their success, like processes and proprietary information. If the reporter is asking for the ingredients to the special sauce you can politely say that is “proprietary” and we cannot divulge those details
- Remember the “Golden Rule”. Never disparage a competitor or an individual
- Bring the facts – recite trends and growth in your company and in the industry that your company works in
- Always let the journalist know to contact you and the PR team if he/she has any follow up questions.