Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Those Press Interviews and Flyby Technology's Advice

 

Background

We felt the time was right to give our graduates some really good advice about talking to the press and to cover some of the "Do's" and "Don'ts" to help you negotiate the minefield that this truly is.

Our Own Experience

We are lucky at Flyby because we have 3 media trained Instructors and all of our other Instructors have been interviewed regularly on the TV after very stressful experiences in combat or highly demanding missions.  Our Instructors are also used to being under scrutiny and having to "Nail it" on the first go.  That is military aviation in a nutshell. Most drone pilots, however, have never been exposed to the potentially damaging by-product of the TV interview.

After the Gatwick Incident Flyby Technology was highly sought after for expert opinion by all of the major news agencies; because of our manned aviation credentials and recognition as a centre of excellence for drone pilot training. We were the "Go to Guys" for CNN, BBC, BBC World Service, BBC Regional, Sky News, Reuters et al....They all wanted considered opinion and an expert narrative.  Thankfully we have a great team in place here at Flyby, who formulated a strategy to support the UAV commercial industry and drone pilots from the hobby community too.  After all a pilot is a pilot, regardless of what they fly or whether or not they sit in an aeroplane or fly it remotely.  The team also identified that in the early hours the agencies would be wanting technical data and "short background" to inform the general public.  They also identified that this would change when the first quarter of the news cycle would be running dry.  We were briefed that to keep the story "hot", the lessor quality reportage would seek to prolong the latter half of the cycle with a sensationalist agenda.  So fore-warned is fore-armed and our Press Officer, Matt, was briefed on our responses to the wilder hysteria.  Commercial drone pilots might not have that support so we have put together these tips to help you:

Don'ts

  • Don't fly the aircraft whilst talking to a reporter
  • Don't perform manoeuvres you do not practice regularly
  • Don't fly using incorrect techniques
  • Don't take short cuts
  • Don't try to push your own company
  • Don't offer up speculation - Stick to facts only
  • Don't go into it unprepared
  • Don't fly in weather or lighting conditions which are not suitable
  • Don't operate outside of your Operations Manual procedures 
  • Don't attempt to fly an aircraft that has not been flown in a while
  • Don't take off with anything less than a full battery
  • Don't break any regulations
  • Don't be flippant
  • Don't be combative
  • Don't use jargon

Now for the Dos

  • Have another pilot fly the drone while you do a piece to camera or answer interviewer questions
  • Perform a full Site Survey and Risk Assessment
  • Brief everyone on the operation including all of the press attending
  • State that the pilot in command is exactly that, in COMMAND
  • Brief that nobody distracts the pilot during the operation
  • Do a practice flight before they arrive
  • Refresh your understanding of the rules and regulatory framework before they arrive
  • Decide on the key message you want to send
  • Practice your tag lines
  • Get a friend to ask difficult questions and rehearse getting back "On Message"
  • Research your interviewer - Know what they are like and what their background is
  • If you are being interviewed alongside others with a counter view, respect and acknowledge their point of view
  • Choose which news team you talk to, look for quality
  • Control your body language and don't move about
  • Speak slower than you normally would.  If it sounds too slow you are about right
  • Forget the audience, just talk to the interviewer and use their name in responses
  • Say as few words as possible and use uncomplicated phrases
  • Smile and be friendly
  • Practice practice practice
  • Thank them for giving you the opportunity to put the industry point of view forward
  • Stay professional and smart

Summary

If we had to give advice it would be to not get involved to start with, but sometimes it is unavoidable.  Remember that colleagues will be watching and whilst you have 1 or 2 seconds to formulate an answer to an unexpected question, the trolls can sit for hours working out their criticisms before letting rip on social media.  A poor performance can be incredibly damaging and you must weigh up if it is worth the risk.  In our experience nobody ever comes out of the experience feeling that they did the perfect interview.  The bit you got wrong will be what the public takes away as their lasting impression.  We need to get the message out about drones and we need that message to enter the minds of the general public as often as we can.  That means getting it right when we have the platform.  Below is a link to our instructors:

 

 

Flyby Instructors