A little trick: Most of the time you’ll find the video crew to be very polite and respectful. Sometimes the best way to get information to a reporter is to “bend the ear” of the crew. They’ll pass that information on if he or she thinks it’s important to get the story narrative correct.
But what do you do if you’re approached by a hostile reporter asking leading questions, e.g., “Aren’t you concerned about Lake Worth’s road and pothole repairs? All that construction going on creating more traffic accidents and road safety issues?”.
First pause! Never respond quickly. Take your time and think it out for a moment. Then. . .
- “Rephrase the question”
- “Give to Get”
- Rephrase the question: Respond to the reporter with something like this, “Have you seen all the potholes in so many City neighborhoods? If you want to learn more visit the City’s website. There is a lot of information about what is happening. And the City is moving ahead with the Park of Commerce as well to help struggling areas west of I-95. Would you like to go and see this for yourself? I can give you directions.”
- Give to Get: Give information to the reporter to Get positive media coverage, such as saying, “The public in Lake Worth is excited the bond referendum passed last November to fix our roads and potholes. But did you know a similar referendum failed in 2014 by just 25 votes? Those critics of the 2014 bond also opposed the referendum in 2016 too. [then raise your voice for emphasis] And get this! This is the same group that was against the City’s new LED street lighting too. Have you thought of asking those people why they oppose so many improvements?”
Rephrase the question and then “Give to Get”.Now for an example: A news crew showed up at Lake Worth City Hall last year (see video below) during discussion about moving forward with the referendum to fix the roads and potholes. However, despite all the efforts by one particular City commissioner to put a negative “spin” on the referendum, he failed. The November referendum later passed overwhelmingly with 69% saying, “Yes” to the bond. The positive message won the day at that Commission meeting.
If you see an interview in progress and hear false and misleading information being given to a reporter don’t hesitate to get the facts out. Approach the reporter and ask to be interviewed and remember to be polite, respectful, stay calm, and don’t get too excited. Just stick to the facts.
Study the body language closely in the video below, e.g., hand gestures, posture, reassuring facial expressions, smiles, and try using these techniques the next time you’re interviewed by the media and press (please note, proceed to the 3:00 mark in the video and practice these techniques yourself in front of a mirror):
*Very Important: If you’re interviewed by the TV news or press ALWAYS GET THE REPORTERS CONTACT INFORMATION, either a business card or write down their phone number and/or email. When the news hits the print edition or airs on TV and there is a reporting error you want that corrected as soon as possible.