Written by Milly Edgerley • Published 20th December 2016
A well placed interview can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to building your personal brand. If you can find the right platform and get your point across effectively, the benefits to your reputation and even your business can be immeasurable. Get it wrong, however, and the damage can be irreparable.
A live interview can be a minefield if you are not adequately prepared and media training is essential in ensuring that you present yourself in the best possible light.
From being unable to answer a difficult question to appearing insulting and rude, we’ve picked out some of the worst media interviews from this year.
Learn how to handle tough media interviews – download our free Guide to Managing your Personal Reputation
Emily Thornberry was caught unprepared when she was unable to provide, when asked, the name of the French foreign secretary. Thornberry quickly lost her cool and accused Murnaghan of ‘pub quizzing’ her unnecessarily (perhaps valid). When she pushed the discussion onto South Korea (presumably thinking it safer ground) Murnaghan caught her out again by asking her to name the South Korean president. By the end of the interview, Thornberry had escalated to openly charging him with sexism. Her defiance in the face of questioning descended into a tirade on the presence of sexism in government institutions, and Murnaghan himself. Whilst Thornberry has a point about wider attitudes to women, both in corporate and political organisations, her reaction felt like a hotheaded defence to being woefully unprepared.
Thornberry’s lack of knowledge was somewhat embarrassing. But arguably, a more measured reaction may have resulted in the interview moving on to ground she felt more comfortable on. Instead her claims of sexism as an attempt to cover a poor performance lead to a general consensus that her actions had trivialised the issue, making serious discussion and reform harder to reach.
Sir Phillip Green
Living proof that the doorstep interview has lost none of its ability to trip up even the most experienced of spokespeople, Sir Philip Green put in a less than impressive performance when Sky News approached him in the Greek Islands.
The bizarre encounter captured Green repeatedly telling the reporter to ‘go away’ before threatening to throw the camera equipment in the sea.
A masterclass in how to alienate people (even further) and generate negative headlines. Green could certainly have benefited from a calmer approach – the reporter was, arguably, intrusive and had Green issued a calm no comment or simply walked away the interview may not have even been worth broadcasting.
Piers Morgan / Joe Wicks
It isn’t always the interviewee who can suffer from a terrible interview. Piers Morgan, admittedly not the most popular man in media at the best of times, garnered plenty of negative reaction after his interview of Joe Wicks on Good Morning Britain.
Having started by calling Wicks’s stance on healthy eating and children ‘baloney’, Piers then goes on to grill him on his love life. In an interview that fluctuates between weird to downright aggressive, Piers swings between ranting to the camera about how disgusting he thinks kale is and asking inappropriate questions about Wick’s love life: “How many women are beating their way to your door” before stuffing a peanut butter sandwich into his mouth.
Wicks manages to remain cool and deflects the questioning as best he can, asking to return to the topic of his cookbook but admits that this bizarre style of interviewing has ‘thrown him’.
Even longstanding fans of Piers Morgan called out his behaviour, and that of co-star Susanna Reid who did little to quell the situation.
Not a fan of Joe Wicks, but why the ignorant and arrogant Piers Morgan is still employed anywhere in the media is beyond comprehension #GMB
— Michael East (@michaeleast1983) November 16, 2016
— Paul Hampson (@phampson76) November 16, 2016
“I didn’t realise Jeremy Hunt was his real name – I thought it was rhyming slang.”
Not the best start to an interview for the RMT leader. Especially considering he’d been thrown off the same radio station’s airwaves in 2015 for repeatedly asking Nick Ferrari if he’d stopped beating his wife in a bizarre tirade.
This years contribution was no more reasonable with Hedley following up his crude opener by going completely off message and remarking that ‘all Tories are an absolute disgrace, they should be taken out and shot to be quite frank with you.”
With inflammatory comments being thrown around left, right and centre, how could Hedley expect to get any of his messages across during the rest of the interview? As Shelagh put it: “If your job is to represent your workers and I was one of your workers I would want you to represent me without resorting to (saying) things like that. Because it is not a part of adult, mature negotiation to speak the way you have just spoken.”