Handling Tough Media Interviews

Patrick O'Reilly

As the president of Riverside, California’s OPR Communications, Patrick O’Reilly has provided well-crafted public relations services to clients for more than a decade. OPR is particularly noted for its ability to advise clients on media relations and crisis communication, two vital aspects of any public relations plan. Patrick O’Reilly and OPR have delivered high-quality work to educational institutions, energy companies, and a variety of small businesses and major corporations in Riverside and elsewhere.

All public relations professionals understand that preparing a client to deal with a difficult or sensitive media interview can represent a significant challenge. Helping a client avoid being ambushed with aggressive or insinuating questions from journalists involves a number of factors.

In general, anyone facing a tough interviewer should spend time practicing answers to the kinds of questions likely to be asked, as well as reinforcing core messages. Rehearsal can help even the most nervous individual feel more in command of his or her responses.

It’s important not to dodge leading questions. Answer without appearing defensive, then close with a truthful and positive statement.

Be careful with hypothetical questions. Concentrate on the facts without indulging in speculation. You can say, “While I can’t comment on something that hasn’t happened, I can say . . .”

One time-honored way to address tough questions involves “bridging”—using the question as a lead-in to delivering a core positive message. Phrases that come in handy here include “We need to remember,” “It’s important to,” and the like.

Advertisements

Chipotle Reaches Out to Customers with New PR Plan

OPR Group pic
OPR Group
Image: opr-group.com

OPR president Patrick O’Reilly is a Riverside, California, public relations professional with varied experience in corporate communications and crisis management. Since 2001, Patrick O’Reilly has led the Riverside-based firm to develop public relations strategies for organizations in a variety of sectors ranging from higher education to food production.

Popular fast-casual restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill recently experienced declining sales and negative press following an outbreak of E. coli and norovirus that affected customers across the United States, and its efforts in the wake of this incident provide an admirable example of a focused PR strategy developed to manage a corporate crisis. Chipotle is confident that it will overcome this roadblock with a combination of food safety improvements and consumer trust. According to founder and co-CEO Steve Ells, the company will implement new practices, such as pre-chopping tomatoes before they reach the restaurants and bolstering produce testing methods, to greatly reduce the possibility of any future health concerns.

Chipotle will also implement a multifaceted marketing strategy to communicate to customers that the restaurant is a safe place to eat. This will include detailed correspondence explaining the incident, as well as coupons to welcome customers back, all underscored by a tone of humility.