When I hear that, I ask my clients this question: “Are there ever times you tell your colleagues something behind closed doors that you’d rather not share with the reporter?”
They always say yes.
That’s when I remind them that a reporter’s job is to find out what they’re saying privately. Journalists want to know the things you know but would rather not tell them. It’s not necessarily sleazy. It’s just their job.
Of course, your job as a spokesperson is different. You want to enhance your company’s reputation, sell more products, advocate a point-of-view, or pass a new law. Your goal is to say enough to maintain your credibility, but not so much that you do yourself harm.
Below are five intimidating tactics reporters use to get information out of you—and five ways to defeat their cleverly-laid traps.
1. “I’m on deadline and need an answer now”
Reporters know that the more time you have to prepare for an interview, the less likely it is you’ll say something damaging. So they’ll try to catch you off-guard, calling you 30 minutes before their “deadline.” They’ll say they need an answer now—and if you refuse, they’ll unsubtly threaten to tell their audience you refused to comment.