Dr. Oz’s missteps offer 5 key media interview lessons

The TV doc’s time in the media spotlight is a cautionary tale for health care professionals. Whether you’re being questioned by a trade publication or by the Senate, heed these guidelines.

They’ve pulled back the curtain on Dr. Oz.

TV celebrity Mehmet C. Oz finds himself in the hot seat, answering U.S. senators’ questions about why he would stand behind claims about certain diet supplements if there’s no legitimate medical support for them.

Consumers assumed Oz had clinical evidence to back up his assertions. Unfortunately for Oz, he had to repeatedly state that magic diet pills do not in fact exist (contrary to many statements made on his show).

Oz’ halting replies highlight the need for media training for all communications pros, regardless of the level of validity of your organization’s products or services.

With thorough media training, Oz could have better controlled the story he wanted to get across, but instead, he continually faltered.

Don’t get caught being ill prepared for challenging questions. Here are five media interview takeaways for health care professionals:

  • Organize your thoughts ahead of time. Having the main points that you want to get across in outline form will help you express your messaging clearly. Make sure you’re prepared to answer all potential tough questions. That way you’ll be less likely to have a “deer in the headlights” moment. If the interview veers off topic, be ready to bridge topics and guide the interview back to your central talking points.
  • Come prepared with evidence to back up your claims. If you’re a physician being interviewed about the effectiveness of a certain drug, for example, make sure you have the evidence to support your assertions.
  • Share anecdotes. Your audience and the interviewer are more likely to connect with what you’re saying if you share relevant stories and anecdotes.
  • Practice being interviewed. Have someone else pose questions to see how much additional preparation will be necessary. Setting up a mock interview allows others to make suggestions on things like body language, and they can provide suggestions to strengthen your messaging. Try recording yourself on a mobile device and play it back to listen to how you answered certain questions. Were you talking too fast, or mumbling? Recording yourself can also help you refine your interviewing skills. Had Oz participated in mock interviews, he could have avoided becoming the butt of a million jokes on TV.
  • Nothing is ever off the record. If you don’t want something you said to be broadcast to the world, just don’t say it. If there’s any doubt in your mind that it could come back to haunt you, err on the side of caution and don’t include it in your interview. We’ve all said things we shouldn’t have, but with media interviews, those cringe-worthy moments live on forever thanks to social media channels and the Internet at large.

There are no magic solutions to ensure a perfect interview, but reviewing the above tips can help you prepare and make you feel more comfortable once the questions start coming.

What tips would you give other health care professionals gearing up for an interview? If you had been Dr. Oz’s advisor, how would you have prevented his media nightmare?

Audrey Chittick is a content and social media marketer at Scott Public Relations and can be found on Twitter @audreychittick.

Topics: PR


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.