The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way PR professionals do many facets of their jobs.
Here at InkHouse, by necessity, media trainings have gone virtual. The pandemic has created a fraught climate for businesses in a variety of ways. Being prepared and ready to handle tough reporter questions is even more urgent during the pandemic. Here are three key learnings from our InkHouse virtual media training experts that are relevant during COVID-19 and beyond.
No matter what the interview opportunity is about (although most-likely there will be a COVID-19 tie-in) nearly all reporters will ask some standard pandemic-related questions, including: How has the pandemic affected your business? Have you seen a reduction in sales/clients/web traffic? What is your plan for reopening? These questions will need to be answered skillfully. “No comment” is never OK and certainly not during a time when your employees, customers and shareholders expect and demand transparency. That said, the classic block-and-bridge technique of deflecting certain questions is an important skill to perfect when facing the media right now.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, many more interviews will be conducted over Zoom or video calls than ever before. You have to think of every interview as a broadcast interview because it can be recorded and used like B-roll for TV, it can be excerpted and inserted into digital articles, and it can even be featured as a key story on a news site. This fact makes preparation and practice even more imperative. As with live or taped broadcast interviews, soundbytes, an executive’s appearance and the ability to avoid unproductive questions in a graceful way will be crucial.
Because Zoom interviews with a reporter are inherently more high-pressure for the above reasons, mock interviews conducted via Zoom are actually very realistic practice for the real thing. We record the mock Zoom interviews (just as we record mock interviews during a live media training) so that answers can be analyzed and fine-tuned after the fact. Zoom interviews have the added bonus of having the look of a real interview and they are conducted here at InkHouse by former reporters.
If you want to learn more about how we can help with your messaging and media, reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.