I read an article in a local business journal recently about a company that was cutting jobs and outsourcing production to several vendors throughout the United States.
It was a well-written, objective article, based on facts that were well researched and also likely provided to the reporter ahead of time. But a few things made me pause and say, “If this were me, I wouldn’t be happy with how my company and I were written about and positioned in this story.”
Here’s a brief excerpt and my take on “reading between the lines.”
What the article said:
“He did not respond to questions about the current state of business. He declined to share any projected savings from the outsourcing. He also declined to share 2014 sales.”
How I interpreted it:
Was he even prepared for this interview?
What I would have done differently:
Prepared for the interview. Anticipated possible questions – both easy and difficult. Developed a clear and concise answer to those anticipated questions. Role played with someone to put myself in the best position possible to get my message out in a way that positioned my organization in a positive light.
At the very least, respond to the questions. Otherwise, you come across as being unprepared, not helpful, or hiding something. These are all red flags that don’t help position you as a credible industry thought leader, or worse, reinforce to the reporter that they shouldn’t consider you as a resource for future stories they may be covering.
Here’s how I might advise this particular spokesperson when preparing to handle some of the queries he received:
Q: “How’s the current state of your business?”
A: “It’s good (it’s steady). Obviously, we’re making some changes that may be difficult right now, but these changes are necessary and will be beneficial for our company, employees and customers in the long run.”
Have an answer, because it’s going to be asked. Take the opportunity to show your business acumen and share your thoughts and philosophy on how you approach business. This may impress the reporter enough to consider using you as a resource on future business-related articles.
Q: What are your projected savings from the outsourcing?”
A: “I don’t have specific numbers, but we’re forecasting a savings somewhere between 10-20 percent in the first 18-24 months.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re off the mark in 18-24 months. At least show you’ve put some thought into a plan and a vision for the future (if you truly have one). If I’m an employee and read the real article, I might be wondering if I’m going to still have a job by the end of the year.
Q: “What were your 2014 sales?”
A: “It’s standard company practice to not disclose specific numbers since we’re privately held. This being said, what I can tell you is that we were slightly up (or steady, or slightly down), which was part of the drive into restructuring how we run our business.”
Again, show your business acumen and that you have a vision.
Be prepared, anticipate questions and have responses to those questions. Being prepared will not only give you more confidence, it will also help you and the reporter have a more meaningful discussion, and position you and your organization as that reliable resource media can count on in the future.
This post originally appeared on JoelKessel.com.