When saying nothing is the worst option: How to handle the media glare

By Jo Yeaman, MIH Managing Director

If you’re a business leader, company executive or sit on a senior leadership team, the chances are that at some point in your career you will be required to face a media interview.

If that situation arises in response to a crisis, it’s vital to know exactly how best to go about things – and that’s not by shying away and hoping the issue disappears, because it won’t. 

There are major reputational risks involved with not speaking up, both internally and externally. If you don’t, it won’t be a great look for you or your organisation. Instead, it’s far better to demonstrate that you can handle these situations.

Just take the high-profile case of British Airways’ Alex Cruz as an example of how not to do it (and later how to do it). You might recall his ‘no comment’ responses to difficult questions over major IT failures in 2016 causing thousands of delays and cancellations. The media turned on the organisation and him personally, resulting in some extremely negative publicity. 

However, following the theft of customer card details a few years later, Cruz had clearly learnt his lesson. He was first on the scene, handled everything thrown at him with clarity and made himself accountable – and both he and BA were respected because of it.

So, what was the difference? In short, he was well prepared.

He’d considered what might be asked of him, had key points to hand and appeared confident and transparent. He will have spent time planning and practising his key messages, and he will most likely have been supported by PR expertise throughout. 

Over the years, I’ve worked with leaders from businesses of all sizes who’ve shied away from the media. It has been my pleasure to help them develop the confidence needed to take on the difficult questions, and later to enjoy the tangible benefits it brings to their organisation and their own career. 

Bespoke media training packages subject you to the type of realistic scenarios you may encounter. These sessions will teach you how to present and handle yourself should the real thing come along – while also equipping you with tools and skills you can use in everyday life.

At MIH, we specialise in tailoring media training programmes to suit you and your organisation. If you want to position yourself or your business, need help getting through a challenge, or want more information about it, then you can contact us via our Contact page here.