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Tackling Sensitive Topics with the Media

Posted by Sonia Abdulbaki | December 7, 2018 | Comments (0)

This is the age of the internet, where information moves freely and there is an outlet for people to talk about almost anything. Along with this comes an emergence of topics that are sensitive and sometimes trigger high emotions.

Because coaching is so personal by its nature, it should not come as a surprise if reporters look to you when they need insight on certain sensitive topics. Always remember that it is your choice whether to engage the media on such topics, and you can do so on a case-by-case basis.

If you do, you may be able to offer valuable insights to their audience, while also bolstering your profile as an expert and coach in demand for prospective clients. But you will also need to prepare. Here are some tips to help you prepare and address the topic effectively.

Listen

Just as with anyone else, when you engage a reporter, it’s important to listen to learn about who they are and what to expect in an interview with them. In this case, listening includes reviewing some of the reporter’s recent work to understand their style, focus and potential biases.

It is also important to actively listen during the interview—be sure you understand the full context of the questions. Ask clarifying questions as needed.

Keep It Professional

On topics that are sensitive and potentially emotional, there is always a lot of complexity. That’s why it’s important to keep your answers clear and professional. This not only refers to the language you use in an interview, but it also refers to your body language.

Be aware of how you hold yourself in an interview and maintain a neutral and calm presence—especially in a filmed interview. When you accomplish this, you will come across as thoughtful, credible and diplomatic, regardless of how charged the subject matter may be.

Prepare

Before any interview, but especially when speaking to sensitive topics, it is important to prepare beforehand.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your position on the topic? Why?
  • Is there timely research or other insights available to support your position?
  • What questions is the reporter likely to ask?
  • What challenges to your position are likely to come up?

Sharing Your Insights as a Coach

As a coach, you are uniquely equipped to offer insights into many sensitive topics that people deal with in their lives, and that can make you a valuable resource for reporters. Don’t be afraid to get personal with the press! But navigating media interviews requires its own set of skills, so be sure to follow these steps to prepare and manage how you communicate with the reporter.

When you do, you will find you are well prepared to share your insights, allowing you to potentially enrich people’s lives, while also enhancing their understanding of how coaching can impact their lives and even potentially connect with new clients.

Sonia Abdulbaki headshot

Sonia Abdulbaki

Sonia Abdulbaki has a background in international and domestic public relations. She resided in Dubai for a number of years and worked for prestigious agencies and diverse clients across several industries. She is a senior account executive at Stanton Communications, ICF’s public relations agency of record. At Stanton, she develops and executes strategic PR campaigns to support clients' visibility and impact through media and internal relations.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

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