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February Media Relations with Bob

Each month for the next year, PRAL’s Bob Johannessen, will offer tips to help members improve their media relation skills. From deciding whether or not to schedule an interview to building trust with the journalists who cover your industry, this column will answer members’ questions with time-tested strategies to help you make the most of each media opportunity.

I’m never quite sure how to respond when a reporter asks me at the end of an interview if I have anything else to say about our conversation topic. What should I do?

Of all the questions a journalist might ask during an interview, one is especially troublesome, and it’s always last. Here’s what to do if you get the “deadly” final question.

There’s a reason why reporters almost always end their interviews with the most dangerous question ever posed during an on-the-record conversation: “Anything else to add?”

  • You may think a journalist is being kind by asking this question. Isn’t it nice that he is allowing you to tell him something you think is important but didn’t come up during the interview? Those who answer the question often believe it’s an opportunity to really lean into the story, to lobby for a better story, or share something extra that could help make the case. But truly it’s not any of those things. Instead, it’s the reporter’s chance to find out if you’re holding back something better than what he already has heard from you.
  • Journalists know that you know more about the story than you’re sharing. This question allows the undisciplined expert to open up, thereby extending the conversation. In so doing, you risk departing from your message, or worse, launching a new and even less flattering storyline.
  • When you get the question, there are two ways to answer it.
  • You can say “No, we’ve covered it” effectively ending the interview.
  • Or you can quickly restate your case in one or two sentences, before ending the interview.
  • The reporter may be looking for more, but the question on its face signals an end to the conversation. So why not end it? If you’ve delivered your message, you’re under no obligation to keep talking. It’s tough to be quoted when you’re not saying anything.
  • If you think you’ve failed to make your points, you could state your overall message again, but it’s probably too late to save the story with a last-minute message blitz. Sometimes it’s better to end the exchange and focus your energy on a strategy to limit the damage when the story is published.

Everyone gets this question, so it’s wise to think about how you will respond. The best and safest approach would be to take a pass, but if you decide to address it, never say anything that you’ve not already said.

 

 

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