"Don’t change the lines”: TRUE or FALSE?
It is often said that the same message must always be repeated word for word to convince the media to use it and to increase chances of influencing the audience. But is this always the case? Is this a golden rule or an unfounded belief?
To adequately prepare for an interview - and not just with the media - you must conceive two or three key messages, with the aim of referring to them whenever possible in your answers. As in all things, it is an exercise where one becomes better with practice, luck, talent and experience!
Repeating the same message constantly, identically and indefinitely will be successful, but only in the very short term. This tactic will soon turn against the spokesperson: he will give the impression that he is hiding the truth and he will create a climate of mistrust with his interviewer. In the longer term, repeating the same lines will irritate his interlocutors and cost him valuable media opportunities.
SO HOW CAN WE EFFECTIVELY INTERVENE WITH THE MEDIA?
Beyond the messages, there is a story. Are you telling a good story? It is always easier to impose a good story than a good message. One good practice is to communicate with the interviewer before the interview. Ask for his or her expectations, try to understand the story he plans to narrate, then look at ways to contribute. The interview will then come closer to a co-creation process, rather than a trench warfare!
By constantly repeating the same pre-formulated messages, the spokesman himself creates the climate of mistrust so detrimental to the achievement of his results. If he chooses to adapt his message - as much as possible - to the needs of the media, the spokesperson develops a relationship of trust where he can present more freely his vision of things.
Finally, repeating messages may be appropriate when dealing with a crisis when you have very little information. But that's what we've already talked about here.
* This text is inspired from the PR Daily article "Why 'sticking to key messages' is not always good advice", written by Wojtek Dabrowski and published on July 21, 2016