When your organisation is in the eye of a PR storm and you’re under pressure from the media to make a comment the temptation might be to agree to the interview, ‘to get them off our back’.
If you’re not fully prepared to answer the tough questions, resist that tempation and get prepared.
In a recent episode of the excellent BBC Radio Four programme ‘When It Hits the Fan’ the presenters David Yelland and Simon Lewis discuss the decision of Captain Tom Moore’s family to ‘enter the lion’s den’ in a recent Talk TV interview with Piers Morgan to try to clear their name after their application to build an oversized spa pool complex – under the name of the The Captain Tom Moore Foundation – was rejected by the local council.
Earlier this year the Charity Commission launched a Statutory Inquiry into how the foundation spends its money which is ongoing.
Presumably Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband Colin thought the interview would help to restore their reputation in the light of the negative publicity.
Morgan had famously championed Captain Tom’s amazing fundraising efforts during Covid and seemingly had close relations with the family based on mutual respect and trust.
As we now know, the decision to take part in the interview backfired for Hannah and Colin; it resulted in highlighting a series of poor decisions made by the foundation which had previously been championed by the media and the public.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Whether you’re a Piers Morgan fan or not, there’s no denying he’s a sharp cookie so it’s a fair question to ask why the hell they did the interview in the first place and why they weren’t prepared to answer the tough questions when they entered the studio?
Despite the previously warm relations between the presenter and the family did nobody warn them that you don’t get to be editor of the Daily Mirror, host your own CNN show and present Good Morning Britain by being a ‘soft touch’?
Morgan smelled blood and to his credit didn’t let his personal relationship with the family get in the way of a tough line of questioning.
What half-decent journalist would?
Were Captain Tom’s daughter and son-in-law prepared for what they were subjected to? Had they been trained to answer the ‘nightmare questions’ which might possibly ensue?
It certainly didn’t look like it.
It became one of the most uncomfortable tv interviews I’ve seen in recent times where their story unravelled to reveal a number of questionable decisions made by the foundation.
Crisis Communications Workshop
I recently staged a media training session for the senior management team at a public authority and put them through their paces with a series of mock news scenarios where they had to prepare their messaging for a tv interview and execute it effectively.
Two of my key messages throughout the day were a) to prepare in advance how you’re going to answer your ‘nightmare’ questions and b) NEVER be bounced into an interview if you’re not ready.
Whether it’s Piers Morgan who’s interviewing you or Smashey and Nicey from Blobby FM, the same principle should apply, particularly with the proliferation of social media where a lack of preparedness can create a media storm and damage your reputation within minutes.
If you think I might be able to help your or your team improve their media communication skills via a series of challenging but fun (honest) workshops then give me a shout.
The last set of trainees seemed pleased with their session – click on testimonials.