In a 24/7 news world, there’s an almost unquenchable thirst for people to have their say on almost any subject.
The media therefore provide a fantastic opportunity for an organisation to talk directly to their audiences – whether it’s to promote, or defend, their product or performance. So PR teams spend a lot of time and money trying to help their spokespeople be brilliant ambassadors for the brand.
But it doesn’t always go to plan. Here’s six examples of when a 3-minute interview became a never-ending nightmare.
1. The hospital pass
One of the most painful interviews to watch. In 2012, George Osborne changed his mind on increasing fuel duty. Good news? Not for Chloe Smith, the treasury minister sent out to meet the press calling the then chancellor’s U-turn an ‘omnishambles’.
Lesson: Put forward the right person, even if it’s going to be a tough interview.
2. The robot (or the overprepared)
When the Barbie range was undergoing a facelift, the CEO decided to front the interviews and sell the new-look doll. Unfortunately she seemed to have been pre-programmed with a very limited suite of phrases…
Lesson: Prepare, repeat your key phrases, but it must be authentic and flexible.
3. Panic stations (or the underprepared)
Housing, and in particular affordable ones, is something very close to my heart. During the 2015 election campaign housing was also a big part of the Green party manifesto. Unfortunately, leader Natalie Bennett hit a brick wall when trying to remember the detail on LBC.
Lesson: Know your topic – which is why it’s better to have an expert rather than a ‘spokesperson’ fronting interviews – and back up your messages with evidence.
4. The walker
I wanted to show ExxonMobil CEO Lawrance Rawl storming off Good Morning America after being interrogated about the Exxon Veldez oil spill – but I couldn’t find a clip online.
So, instead, here’s man of the moment President Donald Trump walking out on CNN in 1990. Looks like his dislike of the channel has been in the making for some time.
Lesson: Be prepared for tough questions, even if you’ve discussed the scope beforehand – and finish the interview.
5. The dodger
An interview with Conservative MP Michael Howard was Jeremy Paxman at his challenging best, repeatedly demanding a yes/no answer to his question.
Lesson: Answer the question.
6. Breaking the fourth wall
Interviews can be hard work, especially if you’ve done a lot and been asked the same question…a lot. But in this clip Quentin Tarantino breaks the ‘fourth wall’, revealing that the interview is really just a marketing strategy.
Lesson: You’ll have your motives for arranging or accepting an interview, to sell a product or manage reputation, but it shouldn’t become the topic of the interview itself.
Did I miss a great example? What’s your favourite interview disaster? Let me know what you think in the comments section.