Watch the local TV news any night of the week. You may an uncomfortable corporate executive fumbling through a 10-second sound bite that makes you cringe. “That could be ME,” you think.
Be prepared for interviews – a PR consultant offers his or her expertise
A Philadelphia investigative reporter did a segment on a company that was being cited by the state for equipment problems. During a sound bite, the reporter questioned the CEO and president why he didn’t know about the problems. The man wondered out loud to the reporter while the camera was rolling why the reporter referred to him as the CEO and president. The reporter replied that he had done his homework. The CEO looked ridiculous for seemingly trying to ‘hide’ the fact that he is indeed the CEO and president and is ultimately responsible for what happens at the company.
This scene is a reason a company – especially a small or medium-sized business – needs a public relations consultant. Large companies have resources to retain in-house PR or communications directors; smaller companies often don’t have that luxury.
- A PR consultant who is familiar with your business and who has media experience will guide you through protecting your brand and keeping messaging and responses focused.
- A good PR consultant will listen to you and your company’s needs and be able to translate those needs into messages that the customer/consumer/client can relate to.
- When you are revamping your web site, ramping-up social media and collateral materials, the PR consultant is a fresh set of eyes to write, edit, interpret and offer expertise on how your content and communications will be perceived outside your company.
- Since media can be your friend, the PR consultant can reach out to his or her contacts with an appropriate pitch geared to the media audience and then prepare you to take on that media interview with confidence.
- To prepare for times when negative news is focused on your company, the PR consultant will act as your company spokesperson or prepare you or your delegates to speak in a straight-forward manner aimed at tackling the crisis and looking forward to repairing the company image.
Can your company afford to be caught unprepared? The PR consultant is a human insurance policy watching over your image and brand which is what makes you successful.
Being interviewed for many people means being in a pressure cooker. The stress can often overwhelm even the coolest of people. Whether you are talking with a human resources manager or a reporter, it’s important to balance poise with being yourself and showing yourself in a positive light.
When a reporter is interviewing a news-maker, the reporter is going for the sound bite. He or she wants information, yes, but he or she wants that information explained in a captivating way. Face it, you don’t want to read in the newspaper, online or see on TV or hear on the radio that “My company is the best at everything.” The reporter wants to know what’s really going on behind those closed doors. The news-maker may be asked, “What’s it been like to work in a company that’s had so much turmoil in the past few months?” The response should be thoughtful – yet provide good information and a good sound bite for the reporter and the public. Something like this could work: “This has been a challenging time for the company. There have been moments when we didn’t think the company would make it – but we have gotten through what we hope is the worst of these challenges and we’re moving forward.” There might be more details in a real scenario – but it’s important to stay away from negativity. The second you say something negative, that is what will be pounced on. That negative comment could end up being the lead of the story.
In a job interview situation, the human resources person or the manager interviewing you also wants to see that you can handle challenging situations with style and grace. take the positive approach when they ask the probing questions. “Why did you leave your last position?” You sure don’t want to go down the negative route here. This surely can be a tough question if you left the position in less than desirable terms. This answer you can surely plan.
- During my time at that company I really got to expand my knowledge in the industry. Now, it’s time for me to take on a new challenge.
- I really feel as though I excelled in many aspects of my position. During the changeover in management, I adapted to the new leadership styles and really am confident I held my own during that challenging period.
Sure, these are positive ways to say negative things; it’s really important to show that YOU can be positive. Sometimes in an interview situation, people will try to get you to be negative. Don;t be trapped. Take a breath – and find that lemonade amid all the lemons others throw at you. It’s less toxic and a great exercise that you can practice all the time – in your personal and professional life.