About to be interviewed by the media? Some handy tips for lawyers when dealing with journalists
It's not uncommon for journalists to seek the occasional comment from lawyers, and it's essential that if a request does arise from a media outlet, rather than viewing the request with dread, legal practitioners should instead see it as an opportunity.
Although, many lawyers have a great presence and can be known as fantastic communicators, we also realise that many people aren't naturals when it comes to being in front of the camera or speaking on record. Additionally, lawyers may also worry about how they may come across during the interview, or may harbour concerns that a statement made will be misconstrued, which in turn, may affect their professional reputation. All are understandable concerns; however, lawyers should also embrace a request for comment because a good interview can be leveraged to gain mindshare. So with that in mind, here are some general tips to help lawyers who may be asked to provide comment from the media.
- Familiarise yourself with the subject of the item. One of the worst things that a lawyer can do when requested by the media for an interview is to appear unprepared. We understand that any media requests will always be taken seriously by all legal practitioners; however, the downfall may occur when a lawyer isn't familiar with their key talking points inside out. Of course the subject matter will be outlined before the interview, but always anticipate a few curlers so if any tricky questions do arise, you'll be able to speak confidently while conveying authority at the same time.
- Positively visualise your interview performance. In the same vein as anticipating some of the difficult questions that may arise during an interview, it may also help to visualise how the interview will transpire. Why? Well, we often hear how athletes positively visualise their performances and it's a technique that you may consider incorporating in relation to the interview as well.
- Keep it simple. There's nothing worse for a journalist than having an interviewee who isn't saying much. Conversely, it may be just as bad when someone doesn't know when to quit talking and ramble due to nervousness, or because they are so intent on getting all of their talking points out there, they believe it's a monologue, rather than an interview. News items whether on video or in print, have a finite amount of space, so brevity is very much appreciated under such circumstances.
- Ultimately, the end product is out of your hands. One of the important things to bear in mind in this instance is that you aren't the editor. Therefore, you won't be able to control the medium, but you can control the message by making sure that you choose your words carefully and leaving little room to have your message muddied. Believe it or not, journalists don't want to purposely take things out of context but they are human and sometimes, a quote may convey a different meaning then intended.
Lawyers are generally adept at getting their message across confidently, and they should take a similar approach as they would if they were presenting in front of a judge (without the adversarial aspect). Finally, remember to publicise your newly minted celebrity status by linking the video or article on your firm's
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