Six Ways CEOs Can Sabotage Their Own Media Interview

Unintended offenses by a CEO during a media interview can have a negative impact on the resulting media coverage – causing long-term damage to both the CEO’s and the company’s image, and undermining the PR person’s and the company’s prospects for future positive coverage.


According to a study recently conducted by our partners in the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN):

  • North American journalists rank CEO (#1) impatience or arrogance as the top turn-off (70 percent), followed by not answering material questions (66 percent) and (#2) telling the reporter what to include in the article (62 percent).
  • Even more European journalists rate impatience or arrogance as the top CEO offense (75 percent), closely followed by (#3) not answering material questions (73 percent) and (#4) talking in platitudes instead of specifics (62 percent).

But across Europe, journalists’ views vary significantly by country. For example:

  • In France, the worst CEO offense (88 percent) is (#5) not delivering on your promise during, and following, the interview;
  • In Spain, (#6) interrupting the journalist or allowing something to interrupt the interview can severely damage the coverage;
  • In Finland, Hungary, Ireland and Italy, not answering a material question is the biggest reporter turn-off; and
  • In Poland, telling the reporter what to include and exclude from the article is just as harmful as impatience/arrogance and not answering key questions

By knowing what CEO behaviors are most likely to favorably impress a journalist – and what specific behaviors should be avoided with reporters from different countries – you can boost your chances for positive press.

One key factor is having access to a PR expert who has that kind of local media, market and cultural knowledge, like we have through PRGN with offices in 50 key markets around the globe that are run by local PR experts.

For more insights into how you can enhance CEO media interview outcomes and avoid faux pas by tapping local PR knowledge, visit: (

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