3 reasons to never end an interview early

An interview between a radio host and New York Jet ended abruptly when a PR person jumped on the line and told the player to hang up. Bad idea.

An interview last week between an NFL player and a radio host offers lessons for those who aren’t professional athletes.

The trouble started in last week’s Monday Night Football game, when New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis intercepted a pass intended for a Miami Dolphins player and returned it 100-yards for a touchdown.

Replays of the interception showed that Revis may have committed a penalty for making contact with the receiver, but the referees didn’t call it.

Radio host Mike Francesa interviewed Revis late last week and relentlessly went after the NFL player for what the host viewed as an uncalled penalty.

That’s where things got interesting. Fast forward to the 2:00 mark to hear part of the exchange—and stay tuned to the 5:00 mark to hear the surprising end to the interview.

After the testy exchange, a Jets PR person named Jared interrupted the interview by picking up the phone and saying, “Darrelle, hang up.” He did. And that’s when this mostly non-newsworthy interview suddenly became a story.

What lessons should you learn about ending an interview early?

1. It always makes the story bigger. Just ask Emily Miller, who, as a member of Secretary Colin Powell’s staff in 2004, infamously pulled the plug on an interview with “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert.

2. It gives credence to the charges made against you. If you weren’t guilty of whatever you were being accused of, why look so defensive and cut off the interview early? Revis could have laughed off the charges or said: “Mike, we’ve covered that ground and disagree. What else do you want to talk about?” Instead, his defensive reply suggested he knew he got away with a penalty.

3. The host usually looks better; the guest and PR representative usually look worse. The host usually comes out looking like the victim of an overly aggressive public relations person, while the guest and PR pro almost always diminish themselves by abruptly ending the interview. That’s even truer in this case, since Revis was doing a decent-enough job at handling himself on-the-air before being cut off by his media minder.

(A grateful h/t to John Barnett, who tweets at @jocmbarnett.)

Visit the Mr. Media Training Blog to see the 21 Most Essential Media Training Links. Brad Phillips is the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog and president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training.

Topics: PR


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