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Guide: How to take charge of your external communications

Improve your professional external communications with tips from the experienced communications consultant Nicolaj Taudorf Andersen, founder and chairman of Radius Kommunikation.
Nicolaj Taudorf Andersen founded Radius Kommunikation A/S in 2003. The agency provides consulting services for businesses, politicians and organisations and today has 29 employees. Photo: Radius Kommunikation

Publiceret: 18.01.2017
Af Karen Witt Olsen mail

The list of advice expands upon the article "Are you ready when journalists call?".

How to communicate well:
- Be prepared - that way, you will not be caught off guard, can more easily stay calm and better communicate your message.
- Have your message ready - what is it you/the company want to communicate?
- Rehearse your main message, say it out loud and write it down.
- Have examples ready. E.g. numbers or something else to support your message.
- Have secondary messages ready; perhaps they can be included too.

Do not:
- say anything if you are not prepared
– instead, say that you will get back to them.
- say “no comment”.
- guess. If you are uncertain, get back to the journalist.
- comment on something outside your area of responsibility.
- comment negatively on competitors and partners.
- respond to rumours.
- guarantee anything.
- categorically deny anything.
- lie.

Before and during the interview:
- Clarify who is calling, where they are calling from and why.
- Clarify what the story is as much as possible.
- Clarify why you have been contacted specifically.
- Consider whether you are the right spokesperson.
- Decide whether you wish to participate - if necessary, ask to call back as soon as possible.
- Have your messages ready and written down.
- Speak concisely, clearly and precisely. Details can come afterwards.
- Support with facts, figures or examples.
- Do not let yourself be thrown off by being asked the same question again and again; repeat your messages.
- Acknowledge if mistakes have been made, apologise and explain how you will rectify or have rectified the situation.
- Breathe, pause and wait for the journalist’s next move.

Also remember:
- The journalist is allowed to be critical - it is their job, it is not personal.
- The journalist might ask dumb questions but is not dumb.
- The journalist is probably under pressure to make a deadline.
- You can review your quotes but cannot retract them.
- You can correct factual mistakes.
- You cannot correct quotes or information from other sources.
- You cannot decide the angle of the story.
- You might be able give the story your own mark and attempt to turn it in a particular direction.
- Keep your agreements with the journalist.
- Be aware of your clothes and body language.

For TV interviews in particular:
- You have approx. 12 seconds per response (one clip).
- Structure your answers so that you begin with what is most important.
- Make sure to be at eye level with the camera.
- Ensure that the background behind you is in order.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Maintain a neutral expression or smile.

Remember, the journalists are allowed to be critical - it is their job, it is not personal. The journalist might ask dumb questions but is not dumb.

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PUBLISHED: 1/18/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 1/18/2017