Recently. Australia’s Jonathan Hyla, host of The Project, interviewed actress Cate Blanchett about an upcoming movie release.
Below was part of the exchange:
“How were you able to get that cat to do what you wanted to on a leash?” Hyla asked Blanchett, referencing a scenet from the film. “I tried putting my girlfriend’s cat on a leash and it just never works for me.”
“That’s your question?” Blanchett said in response. “That’s your fucking question?”
So guess what all the headlines focused on from the interview?
The problem with Blanchett’s outburst is that it was more emotional, more interesting, more spontaneous, and more surprising than anything else she said in the interview. Therefore the outburst is what gets all the news coverage, not a plug for the movie. Therefore, this didn’t help Blanchett.
Hyla, may have, indeed, asked a stupid question. From the standpoint of Blanchett’s PR objectives of getting people excited about watch a movie, why should it matter?
Here is my advice to clients when they think a reporter has asked them a stupid question:
“You may be right, but nobody cares about your opinion of the question. You weren’t hired to be the journalism professor for the reporter. If you think the question was stupid, then re-write it in your own mind until it is a smart, interesting question, and then answer that.”
In Blanchett’s case, she could have simply re-written the question to “Can you tell us about some of the greatest challenges faced during the movie when you had to work with animals and a large cast?”
Then, Blanchett could have answered in a lot of different interesting and positive ways, and avoided looking like a petulant star.
TJ Walker trains celebrities and executives how to answer questions in news media interviews. you can reach him at Media Training Worldwide 212.764.4955