It’s an old reporter’s trick–one of the best in the book.
The cops use it too. So does one of my doctors.
It’s called silence. And it’s designed to make you talk about something you don’t want to talk about. Beware of it the next time a reporter is interviewing you, either on the telephone or face to face.
It goes like this. The reporter asks a question about a sensitive topic, or something you don’t want to talk about. You start to hem and haw and try to avoid answering. But instead of asking you another question, the reporter treats you to a big helping of silence.
You start to squirm with discomfort. What do many people do when they feel uncomfortable? They start talking. About anything. Before long, you’ve spilled the beans about something you shouldn’t be talking about. As for the reporter, mission accomplished.
Crisis counselor Jonathan Bernstein says savvy Publicity Hounds should be aware of the power of silence during interviews and understand that it’s sometimes a trap.
You should know about other tricks too. Like the forgotten tape recorder.
It goes like this. A reporter asks if it’s OK to tape-record a sensitive interview with you and an associate. You say yes. Halfway through the interview, the reporter excuses herself to use the restroom. But she intentionally doesn’t turn off the tape recorder. You’ve forgotten about it, however, and it’s taping everything you and your associate are saying while the reporter is out of earshot, possibly to be used later in the story.
Jonathan, a former newspaper reporter, knows all the tricks. He also knows the top 5 mistakes people use in bad-news situations, what to do if you suspect the reporter has an agenda and is out to get you, tips for dealing with dumb or unprepared reporters, and precautions to take if a reporter is inside your building. He explained them all during the telephone seminar “How to Keep the Media Wolves at Bay.” It’s available as a CD, cassette tape or an electronic transcript you can download and be reading immediately.