What are my tricky questions and why should I answer them?

Leon Emirali

Senior Political Counsellor

Without a doubt, the most common question we get from participants in our media training sessions is “what are the tough questions I could be asked and how do I answer them?”

Be this in a media interview, a press conference, or even a tricky internal or external meeting – these are the questions your organisation really doesn’t want to be pressed on. That part of your annual report, that court case, or that situation with the disgruntled customer, client or former employee.

Our response, as I am sure you can imagine, is – you must have an answer for them, even if it’s uncomfortable.

To answer them, you must know what they are and prepare accordingly. Your communications team or agency will be able home in on what might come up in an interview, but these questions are often obvious when it comes down to it.

What you need to be more careful of is a fishing expedition – this is where a journalist or stakeholder will ask an off-piste question that you are not expecting.

A journalist will be working on multiple other stories that day, and as a prominent leader or organisation, a quote from you could be just what they need.

Similarly, an internal or external stakeholder might want to know your organisations stance about a certain issue, or they might want a response to the news of the day, and how it relates to your organisation.

In this case, it is always important to remember that you are a spokesperson, not an answer person. You must answer this question in a way that is beneficial to your organisation, highlighting your values and ensuring that your audience is reassured by what they hear. It is key that you do not to fall into the trap of answering based on your opinion.

Every question is an opportunity to convey your key messages, allowing you to shape the narrative and emphasize the most important points for your organisation.

Tough questions from your key stakeholders always provide a valuable exercise in accountability, transparency, communication, and growth. You can harness them to demonstrate expertise, engage your audience, and foster meaningful discussions, enhancing your communications and strengthening your brand and organisation.

If you need help identifying your tough questions, speak to PLMR and stay tuned for our next blog where we give you tips and tricks for answering them.

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PLMR’s crisis communications experience is second to none, and includes pre-emptive and reactive work across traditional and social media channels. We work with a range of organisations to offer critical communication support when they are faced with difficult and challenging scenarios.

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