Dealing with Difficult Questions
- Anticipate any difficult questions the media may ask and prepare your answer.
It is easier to answer the tough questions if you have given them some thought
- Never speak for someone else. If the reporter asks you, “How do you
think the school’s neighbors will feel about all of the construction
from the new sidewalk project?” simply politely say, “You will
need to speak with the neighbors about that.”
- Generally it is not a good idea to answer questions about hypothetical
situations. The media could integrate this response in the future surrounding
a situation that is similar, but slightly different.
- Learn to bridge the question back to one of your main points. Answer the
question, and follow up with one of your key message points using a transition,
such as “and it is also important to point out…”
- Never comment on topics you are unfamiliar with or do not have all of the
- Correct the journalist tactfully before answering a question if the journalist
uses a false assumption as a lead-in for the question.
- Do not let a journalist rush or push you into a response. Listen to the
entire question before answering and take your time in giving your response.
- Do not let a “pregnant pause” force you into talking
just to fill the air. Answer the question using your key points and wait until the
journalist asks the next question.
- Never say “no comment.” In the eyes of the audience,
this response equals an automatic admission of guilt or wrongdoing, regardless
of whether this is true or not. If you do not know the answer to a question,
say so. If it is against policy to answer a question, say so.