Spokesperson Interview Tips


  • Gather all the information about the situation: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How
  • Write a summary statement to describe the incident, and then rewrite it using half the words.
  • Write a sentence or two to describe how it affects the community and what you're doing to inform, protect, correct, and repair the situation. Describe the record of your utility in serving the public responsibly and safely (including statistics, if appropriate).
  • Rewrite this in the form of two to five main CONCISE points you can emphasize. These are your "Key Messages." Memorize them and practice speaking them, so you can feed them back easily during the interview. Rework the language, if need be, to fit your speaking style.
  • Think of some questions you may be asked about the situation. What sorts of things have you heard the media ask in similar situations? As a viewer or consumer, what would you want to know? Practice answering these questions until you are comfortable with your answer.
  • Ask a couple of coworkers to listen to you and help you practice responding to questions.

  • There is no "off the record". Anything you say is fair game.
  • Statements should be brief and to the point. Your interview will likely end up being only 10 to 30 seconds of air time. Make yourself the "editor" of your comments, rather than leaving it in the hands of the news director.
  • Show compassion. Articulate your concern for the impacts on those affected by the crisis. Ensure you do not appear cold, uncaring or bureaucratic in your attitude. Meter your level of concern and empathy to the particular situation.
  • Show confidence. Do not appear nervous or unsure of what you are saying. Reflect certainty and commitment that your utility will resolve the issue.
  • Do not provide personal opinions, conjecture, or respond to hypotheticals. If a reporter asks what you think of the situation or proposes a hypothetical, bring the point back to the situation at hand.
  • Never say "no comment" as this often leads to speculation that you know information you do not want to reveal or are trying to hide something.
  • It's okay to say "I don't know". Do not try to provide information you are not certain about or guess at a response. Inform the reporter that you will find that information and get back to them.
  • Be honest, do not lie to the media.
  • Act naturally, sincerity is important. You don't want to seem tense or in any way out of control.
  • Appearance is important. Consider what you are wearing. Do you look like the person you would want to be relying on in an emergency?
  • Beware of becoming, or even seeming, defensive.Your best response to an apparent negative or "goading" question is to reiterate the positives, as you prepared in your talking points.