Mick Lynch

Why Mick Lynch is Right to be Wary of Pre-recorded Interviews

I heard a great interview this week with Mick Lynch of the RMT. He was a guest on the “When it hits the fan” with David Yelland (former Sun editor) and spin doctor Simon Lewis.

Mick Lynch

I have already made some observations about the Mick Lynch approach to media relations which can be summed up as: do not try and do it like he does. A quick summary of why comes at the end of this blog.

However, the thing that caught my ear from this interview is that Lynch mentioned in passing that he and his team at RMT prefer a live interview over a pre-record. I agree with this and have been pointing this out to those we train for years. Often,  saying this provokes surprise and disbelief. But I am sure on this Mick Lynch and I are both right.

While everyone is naturally scared of doing a live interview on a main media outlet where the audience is in the millions, it is actually much ‘safer’ than doing a pre-record. That is because once you are in control of yourself, everything you say will reach the audience.

If you think about the copy or the write-up of an interview conducted by a print journalist, only a small percentage of what is said will be read by the audience. What’s more, the journalist will have provided the context and the headline. In other words, someone else will have heavily curated the message the audience receives.

And even if you do a pre-record interview for radio or television, your journalist will have had time and opportunity to choose the bits that the audience hears. You don’t have to distrust the journalist or assign some evil intent to realise that you are handing over a great deal of control.

Mick Lynch

Mick Lynch

And that is the point Lynch was making. He prefers to do his interviews live. He can handle himself and he trusts himself to land the arguments he cares about. Of course, in the modern age, any live interview that is interesting will be recorded,  edited and used elsewhere, but at least the original version is somewhere on the record.

To give my quick summary of what else we learnt from the Podcast …an interview that is worth a listen …Lynch tells us he doesn’t prepare for interviews, he has no problem calling out (fighting with) a journalist, he doesn’t write a speech if he can avoid it and finds it impossible to memorise a speech. Instead, he relies on a lifetime of experience, regular practise at articulating arguments at union branch meetings and chatting with other members of what he is comfortable calling the ‘working class’.

No one could argue that this does not work, for him.

However, in my experience most business leaders do not have a very clear idea of what they want to communicate, they have a lifetime of experience in meetings with other highly educated and specialist colleagues and contemporaries. That ensures they will suffer hugely from the curse of knowledge, i.e. assuming everyone knows what they know, and assuming everyone understands the wider context as they see it.

Even if an inexperienced spokesperson navigates the curse of knowledge, anyone deemed to be in a privileged position is never going to win good coverage by fighting with a journalist.

Mick Lynch is articulate and entertaining. But, his is not a style to emulate unless you too have spent 50 years learning to boil everything down to simple arguments that all will understand.

If you feel you or your team would benefit from learning how to prepare for a media interview and should be taught all the tricks of the trade for managing the process, why not get in touch. Either call 020 7099 2212 to speak to me or email enquireis@themediacoach.co.uk


BBC Podcast

Mick Lynch, grab from YouTube

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