Here’s what happens … with your business in the midst of a crisis, the media are camped on your doorstep, demanding blood.
The moment you step outside, you’ll have to fight your way through the cameras and be bombarded with questions you’re not ready to answer.
The problem is that if you handle this badly, it can hasten either your demise – or that of your company.
So what tips can we give you for handling a doorstep interview?
The first instinct of the targeted individual is often to put up the shutters both mentally and physically.
The problem is that your face shows your hostility and your arm may go up as if to push people away. Both of these make you seem defensive, as if you’ve done something wrong, and as if you are running away.
If you’re facing a doorstep, therefore, it’s important to appear open and to co-operative.
Avoid saying no comment as this gives impression you have something to hide.
Alternatives to no comment
If you genuinely have nothing to say, there are always other ways of expressing this.
- You could give a prepared holding statement
- You could give information about the investigation you’re carrying out
- You could make it clear you are coming back with more information soon
- You could explain why you can’t give full details (such as the relatives have not yet been informed, the situation is subject to criminal proceedings)
Whatever you decide to say, make sure you keep your expression pleasant and open, and whatever happens, don’t become angry.
You’ll probably be surrounded by people firing questions at you.
Rather than ignoring them, which can make things worse, it is often a smart move to answer some of them – as long as you’ve prepared yourself well.
If that’s the case, point to one reporter, say you’ll take your first question from them, and maintain eye contact with him or her. If you try to look at everyone, you’ll seem unfocussed and distracted.
Once you’ve answered the first, point to another reporter and answer their question.
Then, when you’ve satisfied as many as you’re prepared to, let everyone know when you’ll give the next update about what is going on, and make a decisive exit.
If you’d like real-life practice at handling a doorstep interview, and other crisis situations, we can help. We provide a whole range of crisis communication training courses. Contact us on 020 8332 6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.