My husband has been in the news industry for most of his life. We’ve had some great conversations about the media, how to deal with the media, how to get their attention, and so on. I’ve learned a lot from him, but he never divulged this little tidbit.
Today I had the opportunity to be interviewed for a local television show on behalf of the organization I represent. While I was waiting, I chatted with our own media relations specialist, who let me in on this valuable little insight.
She said when she’s being interviewed, silence isn’t her problem.
I asked what she meant, and she explained it this way.
Let’s say someone is being interviewed about something controversial or is attempting to do PR damage control. After the someone has delivered a well-crafted response approved by their Communications and PR people, the interviewer responds with . . . nothing! The interviewer continues to look expectantly at the person being interviewed, even though the question has clearly been answered.
Most people are freaked out by such moments of silence and have an overwhelming need to fill them. They continue to explain, or re-explain, or embellish, or qualify, or provide more information. It is during these moments of slightly panicked blathering that people accidentally reveal more than they intend, or they open up new tangents of questioning for the interviewer.
Our media relations specialist says that when she’s being interviewed and this ploy is used on her, she maintains her silence and waits the interviewer out. The dead silence isn’t her problem. It’s the interviewer’s job to fill up the space, not hers. After she has answered a question, she shuts up. The amount of time that passes before the interviewer asks the next question isn’t her business or concern. She’ll sit and look expectantly right back.
Interesting little tidbit!