Which do you prefer – death or public speaking?

May 23, 2023

Imagine your business is opening a new office, launching a new product, or celebrating a new acquisition. You’ve invited investors, colleagues, and community leaders to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Cameras are running, and the big speech is printed and ready.

Then the local ABC reporter sticks a microphone in your face, throwing you off your game. Your smooth speech turns into stuttering nonsense in front of stakeholders – and across the Internet.

Maybe live interviews aren’t such a good idea, after all.

For all the glamour associated with live interviews, at the end of the day, you have to use the PR mediums that work best for you. If you prefer death over public speaking, avoid live interviews and stick to written statements. It’s up to your team to build a campaign around your strengths and weaknesses, not the other way around.

Here are a few things to consider about some of the most popular methods of media placement.


Written thought leadership, or op-eds, give you the tightest message control in your own voice. You eliminate the risk of live gaffes or being caught off-guard with questions. You also are putting your complete message in front of your audience instead of sound bites or short article quotes which may not include important context or nuance.

One of the major downsides of op-eds is that most outlets require exclusivity, meaning your op-ed may only reach a specific audience and often face republishing restrictions. Additionally, every outlet has different standards for what they’ll be willing to publish, so your team may spend extra time in the writing and editing process. And there’s typically a small op-ed editing team, so your piece may get lost in the blizzard of submissions they receive.

Press releases

Press releases put your message in front of large numbers of media gatekeepers at the same time. They are a good opportunity to include messaging from partners and influencers to earn greater exposure and credibility; and you still have a great deal of control of the information and quotes the press will use in the coverage. A good press release can also help multiply the coverage already earned by bringing attention to other media successes.

The downside of a press release is the loss of some control of how outlets cover your information – the coverage won’t contain the full nuance and context of your voice. You will also compete with hundreds of other press releases for gatekeepers’ attention. Furthermore, the logistics of collaborating with partners and influencers could lead to a long editing process and affect the timeliness of your message.


Interviews help your personality come out while offering the chance to partially control the message. Opportunities are numerous, you can have pick your preferred medium – radio, television, podcast, newspaper, etc. – and you can often easily repurpose media coverage for other press, social media content, and web content.

However, interviews aren’t the best format if you are uncomfortable in a public speaking role. Mistakes can turn opportunity into disaster, especially in a live interview. You also have to deal with the possibility of an interviewer asking unexpected or unfriendly questions that can get you off message or make you look unprepared.

Choose the right media options

It’s up to you and your team to decide which media options are the right ones for your spokespeople. Your media choices should match your message strengths and goals. Your team should advise you of the benefits and limitations of each option, and how effective they will be at hitting that PR home run.

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