AT SOME POINT IN YOUR BUSINESS LIFE, you will be called upon to talk to the press. Maybe you are doing a community project or charity event. Perhaps some big news about the pawn industry has come out and your local reporter wants your comments. Whatever the occasion, read these tips to be prepared for all types of reporter questions.
QUESTIONS FOR WHICH YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER
“How many people pawn their wedding rings?”
While there is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know,” consider telling them what you do know and respond with a positive answer.
QUESTIONS THAT CALL FOR SPECULATION
“So, what’s the bottom line? Are you going to be able to open a store or not?”
Don’t take the bait! Stick with the facts, such as, “Well, we have great support from some of the city council members, and we are more hopeful than ever that we can get this passed.”
QUESTIONS THAT ASK FOR YOUR PERSONAL OPINION
“What do you think of the city council?”
There’s no such thing as a personal opinion. The media will identify you as a representative of your business, as well as the pawn industry. Period. Nothing is ever off the record, so if you don’t want your opinions in the news, keep them to yourself.
YES OR NO QUESTIONS
“Don’t criminals pawn items they’ve stolen?”
Say something like, “The pawn industry reports that less than one-tenth of one percent of all items pawned are ever reported as stolen. Also, pawnbrokers work with local law enforcement to make sure we comply with federal, state, and local regulations.”
“The neighborhood association says that you buy stolen items. Why do you think they feel that way?”
Reporters will often ask you to comment on third parties, usually your competitors or opponents. Answer the question by focusing on your own attributes. You might say, “Well, let me talk about how we do it at ABC Pawn. As a member of the National Pawnbrokers Association, we adhere to a code of ethics regarding how we conduct business.”
THE REPEATED QUESTION
Reporters are notorious for asking the same question with slightly different words several times. Remember these two things: Stick to your talking points. You should alter the specific words of each response, but not the themes of your answers. Don’t let them ruffle your feathers. You should be as calm the sixth time the reporter asks you a question as you were the first, since the reporter will inevitably use your least flattering response.
THE SHOCK FACTOR QUESTION
“What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever seen pawned?”
Use this question as a gateway to tell a positive or inspirational story. For example, “We once helped a student pay his tuition while he was waiting for grant money to come in by making a loan on his gaming system.” Never discuss body parts, human remains, or anything that attaches to a body such as wigs, glass eyes, dentures, gold teeth, or prosthetic limbs in your interview.