Executive Rewind: “Controlling” An Interview

The Fallacy of Control


A reporter may be having a bad day, may not feel well, may not like you or your company, may have had an argument at home, or may be under the pressure of multiple stories and deadlines. These are things you cannot control.

There are two things you have absolute control over in an interview: your emotions and the words you speak. Always make sure you understand that and are consciously aware of it the entire time.

Get angry or belligerent with a reporter and you’ll be giving them a story they didn’t anticipate and one you’d prefer they couldn’t report.

That’s where RIM (Research In Motion—the people who made your BlackBerry) co-CEO Mike Lazaridis finds himself today. Reports I’ve read seem to agree that Lazaridis is a genius when it comes to technology, but much less so when it comes to being the company’s public voice.

And right now RIM has a lot riding on the line today. Its tablet product, dubbed “Playbook”, is due out soon. RIM also has some issues with countries in the Middle East and with India. They want more access to RIM’s tight security.

BBC technology reporter Rory Cellan-Jones interviewed Lazaridis recently, first about the new tablet, and then moved on to the security issues.

And Lazaridis lost it. 

“That’s just not fair. Because first of all, it’s nuts. We have no security problems…  we’ve just been singled out, because we’re so successful around the world. It’s an iconic product, used by businesses, it’s used by leaders, it’s used by celebrities, it’s used by consumers, it’s used by teenagers, we were just singled out.”

“Alright, so it’s over, [the] interview’s over. Please, you can’t use that word, it’s just  not fair… We’ve dealt with this, this is a national security issue, turn that off…”

Mike Lazaridis’s over-reaction was completely unnecessary. He had a perfect opportunity to take the security issue and present it calmly and concisely on his (RIM’s) terms and from his perspective.

Indeed, if you listen to him in the video below, his voice remains steady and controlled, almost contradicting his anger. That tone, with a reasoned explanation, would’ve been much more productive and helpful to both he and his company. But, he’s now provided the media a distraction at a time of great business risk for RIM.

The Media Trainers®

4220 Cove Court, NE
Marietta, GA 30067