Media Advice from Abraham Lincoln
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
A media interview is a two-edged sword. It can wound you, perhaps fatally. It also can give you power.
If you are not prepared and cautious, a slip of the tongue, a poorly chosen word, a flippant comment will bring you pain and suffering, even career death.
But if you are too cautious, the media will not quote you or seek you out as a resource.
And you thereby lose the opportunity to leverage your words and message in articles or on radio/TV or on the Internet.
If you err too much on the side of caution, dodging and weaving, and being evasive, you will not be quoted because there’s no story. Or worse, you may annoy the interviewer who will do a story on the subject without you or you or your input. Or far worse, the annoyed interviewer may find a way to make you look bad.
Bottom line, follow the advice of Abraham Lincoln:
One. Prepare. Lincoln learned to follow a tactic that he learned from his first senior law partner. Lincoln said that he spent more time thinking about what his opponent would say than what he would say.
Two. Think seriously about how you will respond, what words and stories you will respond with. Lincoln did not say that you should not think at all about what you would say, he said that you should spend more time thinking about what the opponent would say. Here is Lincoln’s guiding principle: “I resolved to be so clear than no honest man could misunderstand me, and no dishonest man could misrepresent me.”
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