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The ‘Doorstep’

This is the kind of pre-recorded interview you always want to avoid. In a ‘doorstep’ interview the reporter ambushes you as you leave your home or your office, firing questions even as you try to walk away. If you are at the centre of a major story, you may face a horde of journalists, cameramen and press photographers, all eager to get a comment from you and pictures of you reacting under pressure.

We’ll show you how to do everything possible to avoid being doorstepped and how to survive the ordeal if it does happen.

If you are in the eye of the storm the media will not rest until they have heard from you. The only way to stop them doorstepping you is to take control of the situation yourself. When news organisations phone to put in interview bids for you, agree to do some individual interviews, but make sure that you have time to prepare and that you decide when and where the interviews are conducted.

tv-doorstepIn a crisis you don’t have to speak to everyone but you do have to speak. At the very least, you should do an interview with the Press Association which all newspapers can access and a pool interview which broadcasters can share. No journalist will get a scoop, but if news editors are confident that you have said all that you are prepared to say, they are much more likely to get off your back. News organisations are intensely competitive and their greatest anxiety is that a rival will beat them to the story.

If, despite this advice, you still have the misfortune to be ambushed for a doorstep interview, we’ll teach you how to emerge with dignity. You know you can’t try to hide from the cameras and you can’t run away saying ‘no comment’. The best you can do in these circumstances is to pick someone behind the camera who looks reasonably authoritative, walk up to them and politely tell them that your office will be making a statement later in the day. Be chatty, while avoiding saying anything that could be used as a sound bite. In this way, you appear to be helpful and avoid looking evasive.