When is it OK to walk away from a media interview?

Interview walkawayGetting media coverage is always great because it offers valuable exposure for you or your business. The best thing you can do is anticipate questions and be knowledgeable on the subject matter going into the interview.

It’s rare, but sometimes you can get yourself into a bad position or in over your head. So, when is it OK to walk away from a media interview?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently found himself in this awkward position. During his weekly appearance on the Kirk & Callahan Show on Boston’s WEEI sports radio, Brady was caught off guard after one of the hosts called his daughter “an annoying little pissant.”

Brady was understandably upset by the comment and decided to walk away from the interview. It was the right decision.

The situation Brady was in was extremely rare, but walking away from an interview when you or your family members are insulted is always the right move. Brady exited the interview gracefully and without getting into a dust up with the hosts.

In other cases, you can get caught in a situation in which the subject matter of the interview is not what you expect. The hosts throw you a curve ball and want to talk about something you have no expertise in or knowledge about. 

In those situations, three of the most important words to use in a tough or misleading interview are “I don’t know.” Human nature makes us want to try to answer every question the reporter offers up to us, but that is not the best strategy.

If you are not knowledgeable about a question under no circumstances should you make up an answer just to say something. That approach will almost always get you into trouble.

The three words “I don’t know” should be used when you get in that situation. You can also use variations of the phrase depending on the situation such as “I don’t feel comfortable answering that question” or “That’s not my area of expertise.”

Public relations experts work extremely hard to avoid situations such as these, but they do occasionally occur. Being prepared for a moment like this can help you save face in an awkward situation.

Looking for more PR insights and tips? Start by downloading our guide to newsjacking.

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