If you run a business, the last place you ever want to be is facing Anne Robinson in the Watchdog studio, answering for the failings of your company.
She is not an easy interviewer to face – combative and opinionated.
Watch what happened when Eileen Downey, from Britannia Hotel Group, which owns Pontins, was held to account for failings found by Watchdog at one of its holiday camps.
This is an interesting crisis communications example, as Mrs Downey didn’t take the usual approach to handling a crisis communications interview – to issue an apology and promise an investigation.
She went on the attack and fought fire with fire.
She clearly felt she had a pretty strong argument: that her company had only taken over Pontins a matter of weeks before, was making changes and didn’t want to make staff redundant by closing down inadequate holiday camps.
And she was not afraid to point out holes in the Watchdog case, making the point that they had invited the crew to look at the changes and offered them the opportunity to film again.
Obviously these were the key messages her team had prepared and which she forcefully delivered.
However, she doesn’t elicit much sympathy.
The problem is that any company which has been caught out like this, with “victims”, such as the holidaymakers, will have to work very hard to get the public on their side.
And your tone – apologetic, contrite, helpful, supportive, distressed – or whichever is most appropriate, is crucial.
Her demeanour, her language and her approach was combative from the start and the problem was compounded by the fact that she failed to apologise for any of the problems faced by the holidaymakers who had complained, or promise any kind of compensation.
What did you think of her approach? What preparation would you do if you were faced with a crisis communications interview?