New book provides a road map for executives when dealing with the media A CEO sits, anxiously shifting in his seat. The bright lights show visible signs of sweat forming on his brow. The reporter begins his interview, and the CEO is visibly uncomfortable. Then the reporter asks a tough, unexpected question. “I’m not going to answer that,” he responds coldly. Sound like your CEO? Hopefully not. But if it does, William Holstein has a few ideas which can help ease the palpable tension between your CEO and the media. Holstein, a journalist himself with 35 years of experience reporting for The New York Times, BusinessWeek Online and Fortune, as well as the author of the forthcoming book, Manage the Media (Don’t Let the Media Manage You), said the main issue is that most CEOs don’t know how to communicate with the media. “The vast majority of CEOs worked their way up the corporate hierarchy through different fields such as engineering, manufacturing or finance, and they’ve never had any direct exposure to the communications function,” Holstein said. “They’ve had very little exposure to the media, they don’t understand how to evaluate effective communication … or hire the right people with the right communications skills. So when they come under fire by the media, they don’t know what they’re doing.” The ostrich approach not working This promotion of CEOs who lack basic knowledge of communications skills, Holstein says, is a pattern that’s been going on for the past few decades.