How to avoid a car crash media interview

How to avoid a car crash media interview

Oh dear, poor Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader who is all over the media today for the wrong reasons - the focus being on what is being described as a "car crash" media interview rather than policies. I asked our CIPR PR Diploma course leader and go-to media trainer Chris Tucker for her thoughts on how to avoid a crash.....

Our PR Diploma course leader Chris Tucker

"I suppose being in the media training business I ought to see so-called ‘car crash interviews’ such as the one delivered today to LBC by the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett as drumming up business. But on the other hand it doesn’t help when one of the objectives of good media training is to convince the delegate that the media are not out to get them. Good media training is borne out of a partnership approach with the journalist. To an extent there is a game to be played and there are rules.

One of those rules has to be prepare, prepare, prepare. Anyone doing a media interview needs to stand back and work out what they might be asked. It is odd to say the least that Ms Bennett never considered that the list of policy proposals such as a plan to build 500,000 new houses might not lead the interviewer (in this case Nick Ferrari who has a fiercesome reputation) to ask how much this would cost. Unfortunately, Ms Bennett has form, so to speak, in terms of not preparing. The interview with Nick Ferrari is very similar to the one she gave to Andrew Neil just a month ago on the Sunday Politics show. Then too when asked detailed questions about Green Party policies she floundered.

Having good messages though is not enough. You need to have the ‘supports’ that makes those messages stand up and that give you the flexibility to essentially tell the same story but in different ways. I would always advocate having to hand some real life illustrations about real people to bring to life what you want to say. Statistics also help but again make them relevant to real people. Ms Bennett was also talking about the NHS needing to repay private investment – figures as to how much these loan payments are per patient, or how many extra beds could be paid for instead of interest on loan repayments would have helped.

Another chief concern of any delegate for media training is how best to present themselves. People worry about what they look like and about the ‘ums and ahs.’ However, an open, enthusiastic and above all authoritative approach negates pretty much all of these issues. Unfortunately, Ms Bennett does tend to gabble a bit. It doesn’t look authoritative and it’s worth bearing in mind also that it quickly loses the interviewee control of the interview. If you listen to Ms Bennett on LBC or watch her on the Sunday Politics show you will see her picking up speed and until she careers out of control. It makes the car crash description pretty apt."