When Is It OK to Respond “No Comment” to a Reporter?

No comment

To comment or not to comment

The conventional wisdom for media interviews is that you never say “no comment” when a reporter asks you a question you can’t or don’t want to answer.

You Must Answer the Question

Of course, you can’t give the journalist confidential organization information, or remark during the very period going before an initial public offering (IPO). Be that as it may, you cannot disregard the inquiry. You don’t want to use the words “no comment,” which is like waving a red flag. Yet, many interview subjects figure they can just stonewall the reporter and bridge back to their key messages.

That is a big mistake. The reporter will think you’re concealing something when you don’t address his question. So he will utilize various words to pose a similar inquiry until you answer. You are not obligated to answer every question. However, you are obliged to respond.

Here is an example of a candidate for office who wouldn’t address an inquiry regarding help to military families. When he’s ignored, the reporter keeps on hounding him with repeating the question in a variety of ways. It doesn’t help that the candidate appears to be more intrigued by a sports car than helping the military:

It would have diffused the situation if the candidate had simply stated, “That is a significant worry for our veterans and I’m investigating all the alternatives. I’ll have an announcement out shortly about what I think should be done.”

If you can’t answer, reply, “I am not at liberty to say.” State whether another person in your organization is allowed to discuss the subject and then offer to make the introduction.

Appeal to common sense with, “I’m sure you appreciate the sensitivity of what you are asking,”  or “That is proprietary business information, and it would be inappropriate for me to discuss it,” or, “What I can let you know is . . . ” and repeat your key message.

If you don’t have a clue about the appropriate response, say as much, and express the likelihood of providing a response. In the event that you can find the solution, make certain to catch up with the reporter, as promised.

Take Your Time

Frequently, when a journalist says you didn’t address the question, she really means that you didn’t answer the way she had hoped you would.

Beware of:

  • Responding too quickly. Think. Take some time before replying. Pause for a few seconds. It might appear to be a lifetime to you, however you’re permitted to thoroughly consider your answers.
  • Answering “squirmer” questions. These are the issues that make you wriggle since they’re hard to reply. Be prepared with the fitting reactions to the inquiries you can’t or don’t have any desire to answer.
  • Being brought into a snare. Beware of stops and theoretical inquiries. A regular strategy utilized by columnists is to ask “and… ?” They’re trusting you’ll occupy the clear space with delicious goodies. At the point when you’re done, quit talking. In the event that there’s a delay, use it to survey a past point, not to ramble.
  • Being afraid of not knowing the answer. Even when you’ve prepared for the interview, you can’t anticipate every question. It might be that the journalist’s editor cornered him before the interview and told him to ask you certain questions. Or on the other hand, some awful news related to your organization or industry may have been reported just before the interview. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a question. Say you will get back to the reporter or state it’s something you won’t have the option to reply at all.
  • Lying. Never lie. The reporter will find out and that news outlet will blackball you.

So, in answer to our whether or not it’s alright to react “No remark.” Truly, you can, in so numerous other words.

What reactions do you use when you get an inquiry from a journalist that you would prefer not to answer?

  • B.C. contractual worker presented to asbestos blows whistle, says government made his life a ‘nightmare’ (news.nationalpost.com)
  • Republicans Boycott Video Meetings With Legislators in Hallways (motherjones.com)
  • Getting Your Key Messages into Media Interviews (introducing yourself.com)

Do Integrity and Trust Still Count for Anything?

Not to be cynical, but the recent past hasn’t been so encouraging if you still believe that trust and integrity count in this world.

Not so long ago, CNN released the contents of the late Lybian Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ personal journal, after reportedly assuring his family that it wouldn’t. Commenting on the CNN brouhaha, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted as telling a reporter to f–k off.

Integrity vs Trust

Do Integrity and Trust Count?

The photo of a topless Duchess of Cambridge sun bathing on a private vacation was another media shocker. After the photo appeared in a French magazine, other media took the attitude “they printed it so why can’t we?” So the image is going viral in other countries (but not the U.K.) and so far as we know not the U.S. …Read more…

Presentations and Media Interviews are Easy – When You Know How

If you have not have visited the Newman Group’s website lately, then you’ve missed the videos that describe what we do and our approach to our specialties: presentation and media training. Plus, we are getting ready to announce virtual training sessions in the post-Covid-19 age and you are among the very first to know about it.

We are pleased by the positive feedback to this blog. Our readers tell us they particularly enjoyed our series on presentation training and our series on crisis communications training.

If you missed these posts, or want a refresher on the techniques of giving a presentation and managing the media during a crisis, the titles and links to the posts are below.

Presentation Training

In these three posts, we discuss preparing for a presentation, giving a presentation, and following up after the presentation:
The Presentation Begins When You Book the Date
The Presentation is Not About You
A Presentation Doesn’t End After the Applause

Media Training for Crisis Communications

These posts describe how to manage an Instant Crisis, an Act of God, and a Brewing Crisis:
Effective Crisis Management Means Sweating the Small Stuff
Crisis Communications When an Act of God Strikes
How a Manicurist Nicked a Finger and Started a Crisis

Blogs That Entertained and Informed

We had some fun with these posts while providing tips on etiquette, what to do when you flub a presentation, where to sit in a meeting, and why your personal image is so important:
Are You Using the Wrong Fork? A Business Primer on Table Manners and Etiquette
Don’t Faint When you Flub a Presentation – Laugh at Yourself
How to Stand Out by Where You Sit Down
Are you Sabotaging Your Presentations With an Out-of-Date Image?

We welcome your comments and also suggestions for topics that you would like us to write about in the future.

Why It’s Important to Have “Horse Sense” When You’re Presenting

An interview with David Sonatore, LMSW, career/life coach and psychotherapist, who conducts workshops with people and horses to inspire personal and professional growth.

You use horses as a metaphor in working with individuals and companies. How did you come up with this idea?

Inspiring "Horse Sense"

Inspiring “Horse Sense”

The idea actually found me. For over a dozen years as a commercial film and video editor, I had a unique vantage point to observe corporate executives working together toward a common goal – creating a great video. During post-production, stress levels intensified and scapegoating proliferated. These conditions would often reveal dysfunctional teams.

Through personal experience, I saw that …Read more…