Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

There are two easy ways to influence the editing when you are being interviewed by a journalist.

Make it clear what your key point is

Add a flag when you are about to make your key point. Flag? 'Here's the main point', 'There's one thing I want to emphasise...', 'The real issue is...' and 'Let's put this in perspective...' Reporters will know what you're doing - which is no problem because they might well agree and will at least record it for a later decision.

But we prefer a more subtle method...

Match the interviewer's intensity

If the interviewer says in an indignant tone: 'Come on, admit it! You've handled Mrs Smith's case disgracefully!', you raise your intensity to match his. (What's intensity? Think energy level, or keenness to explain - but not aggression.) 'Certainly not,' you might reply 'The law doesn't allow us to do it any other way'.

Never try to match aggression with aggression or sarcasm or a put down - or that's all your audience will remember about you.

Can I influence the editing after the interview?

For a soft feature story, yes.  For a hard news story, no. You're wasting your time. That's the reporter's job and you'll be rebuffed if you try to take it over.


About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally-charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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