Media Training Worldwide

Make “I Don’t Know Your” Best Friend

In a media interview, it’s not always possible to have all the answers. Sometimes, the interviewer may ask a question that you’re not comfortable answering or one that you don’t know the answer to. In these situations, it’s important to handle the question in a way that maintains your credibility and doesn’t damage your message.

Saying “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable response in a media interview. It’s important to be honest, and admitting that you don’t know something is far better than making up an answer or avoiding the question. When you say “I don’t know,” it shows that you are being transparent and that you are not trying to hide anything. It also signals that you are not trying to be an expert on everything. It is important to note that being an expert on a topic doesn’t mean you know everything about it but rather you have a deep understanding of a specific aspect of it.

However, It is also a good idea to have a plan B, as it is not preferred to leave an unanswered question without something to follow up with. You can follow up “I don’t know” with something like: “What I can tell you is…,” or “What I do know is…,” you can also offer to find out the answer and get back to the interviewer. This shows that you are taking the question seriously and are willing to find the answer.

In addition, if you are being asked a question that is not within your area of expertise, you can also say “That’s not within my area of expertise, but I can speak to…” this can help you to redirect the conversation back to the topic you are comfortable talking about.

It’s important to remember that media interviews are a two-way conversation, and it’s okay to take some time to gather your thoughts and respond in a thoughtful and measured way. By being honest and transparent, you can maintain your credibility and effectively communicate your message in a media interview. Here are some tips to help you prepare for and conduct a successful media interview:

Prepare thoroughly: Research the outlet and reporter you will be speaking with, and have a clear understanding of their audience and the angle they are likely to take with the story. Be familiar with the key points you want to make, and have relevant statistics and examples ready to back them up.

Be yourself: Speak in a natural and conversational tone, and don’t try to use jargon or overly formal language. Be honest and transparent, and don’t be afraid to show your personality.

Stick to the message: Have a few key messages that you want to convey during the interview, and try to steer the conversation towards those points. Avoid getting sidetracked into unrelated topics or engaging in arguments.

Stay on point: If the interviewer asks a question you’re not comfortable answering or one that strays off topic, feel free to redirect the conversation back to your main messages. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s fine to say “I don’t know,” rather than making up an answer.

Show your expertise: Share insights and examples that demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on the topic at hand. This can help establish you as an authority and make your message more persuasive.

Be prepared for follow-up questions: After the interview, expect to be asked follow-up questions. Be ready to answer in a timely manner and succinctly.

Be aware of your nonverbal communication: Be conscious of your body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Maintaining eye contact, smiling, and speaking in a steady and confident tone can help convey your message effectively.

Understand the context of the media: The way the media frames an issue is important, if the publication has a slant, understand that the way they present the story will be with that bias.

Be clear about your availability for future interviews: Before the interview ends, confirm with the interviewer about the possibility of follow-up, if the story expands or evolves. This will make it easier for you to engage in future interviews.

Follow-up: After the interview, be sure to send a thank-you note to the reporter and a copy of any materials or data that you mentioned during the interview. This can help to establish a positive relationship with the reporter and increase the likelihood of future coverage.

Overall, being prepared and having a clear message is key when conducting a media interview. By staying on point and being yourself, you can convey your message effectively and leave a positive impression on the reporter and the audience.

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