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Those negative journalists from Reuters!

People who can read between the lines will notice that the top man at VBO (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium), Rudi Thomaes, is being reprimanded today. Yesterday, in an interview with the news agency Reuters, he aired some bad news about Belgium and its economic prospects. According to De Standaard, Thomaes claims the opposite: “I gave Reuters a very balanced answer.” This is not something that you do if you want to give really strategic press interviews.

Thomaes should have known that journalists do not look to him for a carefully considered, semi-scientific analysis of the current economic situation. They expect a clear and substantiated point of view. You could also say that it’s in VBO’s best interests to appear in the press giving clear points of view. And this isn’t something you can do by giving balanced answers.

You can only do this by choosing beforehand what you want to say, and more importantly what you don’t want to say. By taking into account what your interested parties expected from you (stakeholder is an ugly word, and interested parties is not much better).

But back to the strategic press interview: by above all selecting a strong core message, then substantiating it sufficiently and repeating it regularly, you can increase the chance of what you want to explain being published.

If you want to wash your dirty laundry in public, no problem, get it off your chest. If you want to avoid even more negative comments upsetting the markets, tell a positive story. And if you want to tell a very balanced story, don’t do any interviews with the press.

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