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.