The key thing about surviving doorstep interviews is to take control. Running away makes it look as though you have something to hide.
If you do not know what you should be saying
If you do not know what they are talking about or do not want to answer any questions at all, say “I’m sorry but I don’t have enough information to hand to make a statement at this time. [An investigation is/will be underway]. I am sure that we will let you know via a statement or press conference as soon as we have enough information to give you an accurate picture”.
If you do want to say something
Take a moment to clear your head and calm your breathing and either say:
– “I can make the following short statement but cannot take any further questions”. Highlight in 20 seconds your key message/ defence/ line-to-take and then you can leave. This way, you have addressed the media’s issue and the audience will think you have been reasonable
– if you are more confident about the problem, “I can spare you two minutes but then I really must get on with resolving this issue”. Take the first question and using the address-bridge-communicate (ABC) method, talk calmly and slowly for two minutes (which will be over in a flash).
When the media scrum tries to ask further questions, say “I said I could spare two minutes which I have done, now I must get on with resolving this issue” and head off.
In both cases, before you take the question or make the statement, ask to position yourself on the pavement (by your car) or near to the building entrance. It is reasonable to expect the media to respect that your house should not be able to be identified from pictures. You can say that you want to take a position that allows everybody to see and hear you. Most importantly though, you can leave more quickly and without having to push your way through the media pack which creates opportunities for them to ask more questions.
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