I was involved in a meeting this week to plan the strategy for a public relations response to a negative report that is due out next week. This doesn’t affect just our school; all the Iowa privates agreed not to submit information to the requesting organization because their motives and methods appear to be unscrupulous. Nonetheless, we will be “graded” even in the absence of data, and we were meeting to coordinate a response to the inevitable media request.
I was reminded of wise PR counsel from a former staff member: “Remember, they will write what you answer, not what the question was.” In other words, say what you want reported, regardless of what the question is. Know what your message is in advance and get that out there one way or the other.
It is great advice for an interview too. Another friend told me to have three key points that I wanted to make in an interview and to think of them as a triangle. I could reference one point in one question, then another point on a later question, the third point at another opportunity and then begin again with different examples that reinforce point one. If you follow this same methodology with the various groups with whom you meet, you will have everyone hearing the same thing, regardless of the variance in questions.
So the next time you’re in the hot seat — on camera or not — prepare in your mind the three points you want to make and stick to them. Make it about what you say, not about what you’re asked.
— beth triplett