Did you really just say that to a reporter? How to treat every interview as a business opportunity.

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What You’ll Learn:: 

It’s May. The NFL season kickoff is months away. Fans are hungry for any crumbs of news.

Enter Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Clowney, who tweets, “Got My HIV Results Back!! … Thank God for keeping my body healthy and safe.”

The tweet includes a photo of the results, complete with his Social Security number and home address, says Lee Gordon, director of corporate communications at 180 Communications. The media eats it up.

“Don’t spoon-feed [negative] news to the media,” Gordon says.

Gordon spoke in a Ragan session titled, “Did you really just say that to a reporter? How to treat every interview as a business opportunity.” In this practical how-to, you’ll learn:

  • How to take control of an interview
  • How to stop and re-start an interview when you say something wrong
  • How to give the answer you want to give, not what the reporter wants
  • How to capitalize on media opportunities for you or your clients
  • Why you must prepare. And how to flatter a reporter (subtly).

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is out for a walk. Someone offends him by snapping his photo. His response: flipping the bird. It’s instantly all over social media. Remember—or tell your client to remember—that all it takes is one tweet to start a crisis.

Likewise, no punching the reporter for asking obnoxious questions—or the fan for taking a picture. You can’t win. Trust Gordon on this.

Find out how to take control of an interview, and what that has to do with your company T-shirt and the background setting.

Shake hands with the reporter and, crucially, the photographer. Learn a few details about them beforehand—and learn the lesson of Gov. Charlie Crist, who managed to deflect a hard question by flattering the reporter.

Gather tips practicing for an interview. Overcome the awkwardness you feel when somebody goes up and sticks a camera in your face.

Learn the no-no’s of a bad interview stance. For starters: don’t sway back and forth, Gordon says.

And find out how to stay on message—and why too much jabbering can harm your message.

Gordon digs into the nitty-gritty of how long the average story lasts, and how long your sound bite should be. Do you want the reporter to decide what your message is? Keep it terse.

Find out how a cough can save your interview, and why you shouldn’t fill in the reporter’s intentional silences with nervous blather.

And learn the importance of choosing five words that represent your brand—and using them often.

Start here.

September 2013

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Presenter bio: 

Lee Gordon is the director of corporate communications at 180 Communications in Tallahassee, Florida. Lee is a journalism veteran who worked as a television sports-news anchor at CBS and FOX for 15 years. At 180, Lee trains corporate executives and athletes on personal brand, social media and media training. He is an Emmy-nominated reporter and 25-time Associated Press Award Winner. Lee served as an NFL sideline reporter for FOX and is an ESPN Sport Center anchor on ESPN Radio. He has written for SUCCESS Magazine, Sports Business Journal and many others. Lee grew up in the Chicago suburbs and graduated from Illinois State University.