Sunday, June 10th, 2012
Media Training: The Cheat Sheet of Questions
What are you going to ask me?
It’s been nearly 12 years since I last picked up a microphone to ask a question for a news story, but I still remember the first thing my subjects always asked me when I arrived:
“What are you going to ask me?”
The stories always change, the interview topics are always different, and the people involved likely shift from day to day. But the reporters’ questions will always be the same. Well, they’ll always have the same theme. Here’s a little Media 101 for you first timers fielding calls from reporters wondering how to prepare.
- What happened?
- Who caused it?
- What is the result?
- Who benefits?
- Who loses?
- How do you feel about what your critics say?
- What does it cost and who pays for it?
- Who is affected?
- What are the next steps?
- How long will it take?
The questions will never be worded in such a basic way as this, but the bottom line of the questions really do boil down to these. The next time you hear a reporter ask you a question, it may come packed with inflammatory words, accusations or speculation, but when you peel away the flowery language, the afore mentioned questions are usually all that exists. Of course you’ll need to add more if there were injuries involved or crimes committed, but from healthcare to education, finance to manufacturing, it all boils down to these questions.
When you take the sting out of the questions interviews become easier and a lot less combative or aggressive. Listen for one of these questions beneath the question, and answer those, not the fully loaded questions you hear that are packed with emotion and controversy.
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