Let’s say you, or an executive or politician you work for, is going on live TV for an interview about a difficult or touchy subject. After a few questions that are tough but that you’ve prepared for, the reporter asks a question you just plain don’t want to answer.
“No comment” is all but verboten in PR circles, but the path former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren chose probably wasn’t better. In a Monday appearance on MSNBC, Oren responded to a question from anchor Andrea Mitchell about whether Israeli intelligence had eavesdropped on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with this:
“An…An…Andrea, I can’t hear you. I’m sorry.”
After that, he reached for his earpiece and reminded Mitchell he was in Tel Aviv.
left open the question as to whether Oren’s response was a genuine technical glitch or a dodge, but The Huffington Post
asserted that the former ambassador’s answer had to be a sidestep.
Not only that, HuffPo also compiled a video
of politicians awkwardly dodging reporter questions.There are some gems in there, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer completely changing the subject and U.S. Sen. Al Franken simply walking in a different direction.
Those pretty clearly aren’t great ideas, either, so what is? A few years ago, PR Daily suggested a few alternatives to “no comment,”
including “That’s not what I’m here to discuss.” Is that preferable? What’s your preferred reply to a question you don’t want to answer?