As the specialist Media Training company for law firms, we’re often asked during our Media Training sessions for lawyers about what questions they might get from a journalist. We know that lawyers like to be prepared, and we emphasise during our training courses that preparation is the key to doing a good media interview. It helps you gain more control of the conversation that you might find yourself having with the journalist.
Here are five questions that a journalist might ask a lawyer – and some ideas of what you might want to say in reply.
What’s going on at the moment?
It might sound obvious and basic, but this is a typical journalist’s first question. We ask it because we want an introduction to the issue. It allows you, as the interviewee, to set out your stall and provide us with the essential information that we need to put our story together. Let’s face it; it’s also what our readers, viewers, and listeners will want to know. We advise the participants in our Media Training courses for lawyers to take the initiative and help set the interview’s agenda.
What are the risks involved here?
Journalists are often accused of focusing on bad news, scandals and threats. But we only do it because, again, we know that this is what our audiences want to hear. As part of the evolutionary process, the human brain is attuned above all to risks and threats. Once we’ve identified these dangers and mitigated them, we know we are safe. It’s a good idea, then, as part of your preparation, to think about a couple of threats or risks that this new trend or the introduction of new regulations or the decision by a court or regulator might pose to your audience.
Once you flagged up these dangers, you can then hint at how your audience can mitigate them. You don’t want to say too much, of course. This is partly because we don’t have time to go into great detail in a media interview but also because you want to make it clear that you know what you’re talking about – then if my readers, viewers or listeners want to find out any more on the subject, they’ll have to pick up the phone and instruct you.
What are the opportunities?
Here, again, we’re thinking about what our audience might want to hear from you. Once they’ve handled any risks, they will probably want to know how to get on the front foot and turn this issue or the latest development to their advantage. Journalists like it when lawyers offer advice and recommendations. As with mitigating risks, you don’t need to go into too much detail; just hinting at a couple of steps they could take or changes they could make will work well for the journalists. It provides the audience with valuable, practical information.
What are you telling clients?
This could also be what are clients saying to you – either way; this classic question really answers the first three points above. A journalist will ask this question because we want to know what’s happening on the ground what people’s real concerns are at the moment? Again, you can turn this to your advantage by demonstrating your knowledge and showing that you’re very much on the front foot with this issue – aware of the trend or changes taking place and one step ahead of the game when it comes to your advice to clients.
What’s your personal opinion on this issue?
You might be asked this because it ticks the human box. Alongside the law or the regulations, it adds a possible element of emotion and human interest. Journalists also hope that it will prompt some punchy words and phrases – the kind that they’re always on the lookout for. Again, it has an element of topicality and urgency. The risk for any lawyer is that their own opinion might be controversial and might be in conflict with the line that the firm is taking. As we say in our Media Training courses for lawyers, the trick to any good media interview is to sound as if you’re speaking personally and spontaneously. Still, everything that you’re saying has been prepared with your Comms team and is in line with what your firm believes.
We journalists love that we can ask anyone anything – we have no boundaries. However, if you’re prepared to answer these five questions from a journalist and, as we say in our media training coaching for lawyers, you’ll be well-positioned to maintain control of the interview and find that the resulting article report includes your key messages and accurately reflects what you said.
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Our media training courses for lawyers and law firms have been created to meet the specific requirements of those doing media interviews. The course includes role-play sessions with feedback, advice and guidance to ensure you are comfortable and confident in any media environment.
Call us on + 44 (0)7958 239892 or email email@example.com.
We also offer follow up ‘refresher’ training courses to ensure your firm truly understands the messages we teach.