In my last blog post, I mentioned that questions and answers (Q&As) are where you put the answers to hard questions.
This contrasts with your key messages, which you want to get to the forefront of any news story.
It’s important to remember, when the media are for hunting a story, it’s not all fun and games. It’s not their job to promote your business uncritically.
They need to tell a story.
Sometimes, that story isn’t perfect.
Sometimes, there is something to the story that you’d rather not discuss.
Regardless of whether or not you want to talk about it, you have to be ready with an answer.
That’s where Q&As come in.
To start, you want to think of the most difficult questions you would never want to be asked.
Then you answer them.
You answer in the best way you can at this point in time.
If something is under investigation at your organization and there is no immediate answer, then say so. You’re not hiding anything. You’re being honest about where you are in the process. You’re also not going to step on the investigator’s toes by getting into hypothetical outcomes, despite the wishes of the reporter.
Sometimes, you don’t have to answer questions. For example, private companies are under no obligation to declare their revenues publicly. That doesn’t mean you can’t say it in a nice way.
Q&As give you the opportunity to massage a message to make sure you’re coming off as helpful, even if you’re unable to address a specific question.
A good set of key messages should give you the confidence to move forward with a media opportunity, despite what else is happening with the organization.
Once you’ve answered the hard question, you should bridge back to your core key message.
By writing Q&As, in addition to key messages, you’ll be ready to answer reporters’ questions with confidence, even if you wish they were never asked in the first place.