Why spokespeople fall apart on the last question

All the poise and style won’t cover for a flawed exit from your media appearance. Here’s how to prepare executives and spokespeople so they don’t flub the finale.

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This article originally appeared on PR Daily in May of 2018.

Picture the scene.

You are pretty sure your spokesperson is coming towards the end of their media interview. You’re confident they have answered all the questions on the topic well and you feel they have got the message across successfully.

Suddenly, the journalist asks something completely unexpected, completely out of left field and your principal puts his foot straight into his mouth.

The final question has tripped up many a media spokesperson—and often undone all of his or her previous good work.

So what can you and your media team do about it?

Awareness is key

Often the last question will be introduced through a phrase like “while I’ve got you here,” which you have probably heard during radio or TV interviews.

It might take the form of a question about last-minute developments on your subject. It could be about wider issues in your sector or industry, or perhaps about something a rival organization has done.

The scope could be much wider than that. In the current political climate, you will often find spokespeople asked to give their views about the impact of Brexit or Donald Trump through this final question.

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