What do Mario Sabga and Colonel (Ret) Dave Williams have in common?
An assumption that they know their businesses so well that they can handle media exposure without the necessary training or preparation. Mario Sabga made an unfortunate reference to 1% being the most powerful in T&T and Colonel (Ret) Dave Williams said small thing in reference to the flooding situation. These statements forced apologies out of these otherwise successful professionals.
Despite previous success, level of confidence, or where you are located on the hierarchy of power, only a naïve person faces the media without a plan. That plan must place the audience and media at the centre and ask the question: What is the outcome I expect? If you don’t have a clear understanding of the outcome you expect or even the angle you want the media to take, then someone else will make that decision for you and ultimately make a decision which you don’t like.
Crying that Anthony Bourdain or Khejan Haynes quoted you out of context is after the “horse has bolted”. You should have been on top of your game and tempered that urge to be quick, witty, or whatever else you want to call it. Had both gentlemen sat in a moment of sober reflection with communications professionals, they would have understood the “no-go” zones. In an age of “Live Tweets” and instant communications we need to understand the power of 140 characters and frame our messages to suit.
If you are going into an interview which is controversial, take the lead on the difficult questions and put the information out so you lead the issue.
Oftentimes, leaders believe that they can suppress information but in this era, nothing is a secret, it is just a matter of time before it becomes known to the public. It would be better for you to lead the conversation and provide the information. In instances where there is data to support your statement, your credibility suddenly shoots up. But please ensure that the statistics are simple and that you have the right interpretation – I am reminded of the statement about the “decreasing increase in crime”.
While the media has a tremendous responsibility to provide fair and balanced coverage, experience has shown that we cannot rely on this. Journalists and news agencies will do what is in their interest first, last and always.