CBS Evening News delivered a great example tonight of what not to do when an interview goes badly.
An investigative piece, correspondent Jim Axelrod reported about how some Americans have been sent costly medications they did not order in a scheme arranged by a telemarketing firms and compounding pharmacies.
At around the 3:40 mark of the clip below — Axelrod interviews Ashley Downing and her husband, Chris, co-owners of a Dallas-based outfit which mixed up meds costing tens of thousands of dollars and sent to unwitting patients.
Apparently Ashley was expecting something other than a hard-hitting interview. When the questions turned tough, she turned tail.
“I think we should just go ahead and just…” said Ashley.
“And just what?” Axelrod asked.
“Not do this anymore. I was not prepared for this at all,” Ashley answered.
“Let me ask you one more question, what is in those creams that is worth $18,000?”, the reporter pressed.
“So we don’t determine the formulas, on that,” Ashley said. “You know, we’re done, I’m done on this.”
There are a number of lessons from this. (Beyond the obvious — don’t rip off insurance companies and patients).
Before you agree to sit down with a journalist you need to do you best to figure out the line of questioning.
You need to check out the reporter’s past work — Axelrod would not be doing a puff piece on the state of the pharmacy industry for example.
The interviewees should also prepare their messaging — practice answering tough questions and have an exit strategy if things turn ugly. That exit strategy is not to declear “We’re done. I’m done on this.”
Going into an interview as unprepared as the Downings were — is simply bad medicine.