Staying on message is important, but not as valuable as knowing how to handle the curve ball, think on your feet and have a strategy for dealing with difficult questions.
Tried to show @BorisJohnson the picture of Jack Williment-Barr. The 4-year-old with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on a pile of coats on the floor of a Leeds hospital.
— Joe Pike (@joepike) December 9, 2019
In fact the question wasn’t difficult at all. All Mr Johnson had to do was show empathy, be concerned and say how he was going to resolve the situation.
In short the 3Rs’:
• Reason (or Response)
But it seems that Mr Johnson was more concerned about delivering his key messages and has probably been instructed not to go off script.
So instead of handling the media interview as a statesman, he bumbled his way through his messages and put the damming phone evidence into his pocket.
Later, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was dispatched post haste to visit Leeds General Infirmary, no doubt prompted by their advisors.
He managed to get it in one sound bite saying that he was ‘horrified’ by what had happened: ‘It’s not good enough, and I’ve apologised.’
Adding that he wanted to get reassurance that the trust was doing everything it could. He even rememberd to try to keep his NHS audience on side by adding he had been impressed by its response and by the work of the staff.
It really wasn’t that difficult, but thank you Mr Johnson for another good example of how to turn a media interview into a media crisis.
If you are considering speaking to the media, or coming on a media training course, speak with Media Friendly. We offer crisis media management, media training and presentation skills in London, across the UK and worldwide. Don’t let your media interview turn into a media disaster.