Five Expressions Never to Say to the Media

Five expressions never use in a media interview

This blog is for authors looking to get more visibility and coverage for their books. We often cover the important things to say or do when pitching an interview idea to a media person, or what to do once you actually land the interview. Occasionally, we take a look at what NOT to do, which is the subject of today’s post.

Here are 5 expressions to never say to an interviewer or reporter

“In my book….” – That phrase alone can be the kiss of death. Many hosts have ended interviews when hearing those three words because it implies the audience has to buy your book in order to get the real scoop. Of course, we want them to buy your book, but there are better ways to lead people in this direction without saying, “In my book…” One way is to substitute your book’s title. Not the title and subtitle, which would be too long, but the title alone.

For example: ” Many of us live and operate from a mind-set lack, scarcity, and limitation, but Abundance shares tips on how to change that.” (Abundance is the title of Deepak Chopra’s new book. Abundance sounds much better than saying, “In my book…”

“No comment” – This is usually uttered when an interviewee is feeling pressure and has no media training in how to handle and respond to pressure. No comment basically says to the interviewer that you are withholding information and you are trying to hide it. Never a good move.

“Off the record” – Never say anything that you wouldn’t want to see on the homepage of the New York Times website or anywhere else. Some who are new to the media game aren’t even sure what this means anymore. It used to mean that what I’m telling you now is for you and for you alone – not for your story. Don’t take this risk. Just eliminate the phrase from your vocabulary.

“May I read your story before it is published?” – This is a no no. They do not have to show you a story before it runs, and for you to ask makes you look unprofessional. The only exception is if you supply an article to an outlet and they need to make some edits. Sometimes editing can actually change the meaning of what is said, so to ask to review the story after they’ve made their edits and before it publishes is appropriate. You’ll be helping them.

“Did you get my emails and my press release?” – The answer is they did. If they didn’t respond to you, they didn’t respond to you. That is the answer.

Don’t repeat the red herring question. If the question you’re being asked is in any way inflammatory, do not repeat it before giving your response.

For example: “Is it true your book contains some lies and you got caught?” (Oprah interviewing James Frey comes to mind.)

Response: “My book is filled with the truth and for anyone who claims this is not the case, I’d like to know exactly how they came to this conclusion.”

On the other hand, if you’re asked a question that you want to emphasize, you can repeat the question back so it can become a full quote.

For example: “How many people have shared your book content on social media?”

Response: “The number of people who have shared my book’s content on social media has been staggering…”

Bottom line

There are certain words and phrases to stay away from when doing any kind of interview. Coming soon: A list of good phrases to use.

To your success!


P.S. This is Memorial Day Weekend, which is unofficially the start of the summer season. While BBQs are common, it is important to reflect on the real meaning of Memorial Day.





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