If a reporter ever asks you something, be honest and do not evade the question.
That was the essence of the advice given by two consultants in the field of communication to the Rotary Club of Cleveland Tuesday.
Cleveland native Katherine Kyker and Tony Dolle have started Windward Communications LLC, based in Sweetwater.
The company assists businessess and individuals on communication issues including advertising strategies, branding and public relations.
Kyker’s experiences include having taught at the only Japanese high school in the United States, in Sweetwater.
“At that time, I recruited businesses in Asia for the state of Tennessee,” Kyker said.
She said she and Dolle met after discovering their common love of sailing.
“We decided there were a lot of big companies who won’t even speak to you unless you have six figures, so we saw a need and Windward was born in December of last year,” Kyker said.
Dolle than gave the presentation on dealing with the media.
He mentioned he does have a prominent local connection, saying his son-in-law’s sister is the principal of Cleveland High School, Autumn O’Brien.
“If you are a high-profile person, you are very likely to be asked to be interviewed by the media,” Dolle said. “You can do a lot of things to [improve your image or that of your company]. But, if you do the wrong thing, it’s ‘lights out.’”
Dolle said to remember reporters are on tight deadlines and are always “on” in looking for a story.
“But remember, they are like you and me. So, if you are honest and courteous with them, 99.9 percent of the time they will be that way with you.”
He noted good publicity equals credibility for a business or individual.
“Everybody needs to be credible. Your customers and clients expect you to do it and if you don’t, your competition will,” Dolle said.
He said those going into an interview need to be prepared with what they are going to say.
“Have in mind what you are going to say, and get your message across,” Dolle said. “If you’re talking about education and programs and they want to ask about a teacher who may have done something, just come back to your message and get it across.”
He advised researching the media that is requesting the interview.
“These are people who do this for a living, and you can Google them and find out if they do controversial work,” Dolle said.
He emphasized being interviewed should be accompanied by recording your own interview, so there can be no misinterpretations as to what was said.
Dolle also said if you have a message to deliver, “Say it like you mean it.”
He also said to answer “no comment” is the most negative thing a person can do.
“When I was working my way up as a reporter, I loved it when people said, ‘No comment.’ That just made me salivate to go after people like that,” Dolle said.
“Just be yourself,” he added. “If you like to joke and smile, be that way in the interview.”