The Negotiator Magazine

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Winning and Keeping Media Interest During Negotiations

By Lisa Bracken


Public support can be a very important and often critical element in a highly complex and publicized negotiating situation. This is an area of negotiation preparation and process that you may choose to handle yourself, depending on your capabilities, or one you may determine is best turned-over to a professional spokesperson. Whichever course you select, however, an understanding of this key area is essential. This article provides an overview and key tips for success in negotiation media management.

To make the most of any media opportunities throughout your negotiations, scrupulously maintain the high ground by avoiding shouting matches, petty mud slinging and "spin". Think ahead of your adversaries and recognize what will interest the media by imagining yourself in the place of a reporter. This will help prepare you to manage inevitable press questions and afford you precious time to plan your responses. When a significant event occurs in the course of your evolving situation, consider the who, what, where, when, why and how of the event. Failure to prepare your responses will leave you vulnerable to saying too much, not enough, or worse, something irrelevant.

Media loves conflict (it's at the heart of any compelling story), so if your comments are aired, know that they may be edited, and the media is probably hoping for a response volley from your adversaries. It's likely your opponent's public relations department will parry, so in anticipation, try to work two or more steps ahead. This keeps control in your court and your opponent in a reactionary mode. It's hard for anyone to plan tactics when they're in constant panic.

I've experienced many media interviews both planned and impromptu. Some lasted over an hour and others barely three minutes on-the-spot. Some have been over the phone, others over coffee, and many over the air. Since media opportunities may present themselves under less than ideal conditions, when verbalizing your case to the media, keeping the following points in mind can better prepare you for indeterminable circumstances and help you maintain a degree of consistency in your approach. This will contribute to your confidence and you'll be less likely to allow a great, albeit unexpected, opportunity to pass you by. Let's begin with ten essential techniques for success in media interviews:

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February 2006