More and more, public relations pros are brazenly asking reporters to submit their questions prior to an interview.
To those unfamiliar with conventional practice, it’s common on the PR side to prepare for an interview by trying to anticipate the questions. Typically, the PR pro works to draft questions that might be asked in order to gather any necessary background and reference material or information for both interviewer and interviewee.
It’s like studying for a final exam. The PR pro and the interviewee might even rehearse to give the interviewee as much comfort as possible going into the interview.
However, when it comes to the interviewer (the journalist), there are clear boundaries for the PR pro. There might be negotiation about the interview terms, such as duration, location and—for reasons ranging from lack of expertise to legal constraints—off-limits topics.
Still, it’s reasonable to assume the reporter will ask some questions the interviewee would rather not answer. When that happens, it’s the interviewee’s job to come up with a response or remind the reporter that he or she can’t talk about that specific topic.