One of the more unintentionally instructive interviews on the Trayvon Martin case was Bill O’Reilly’s Friday interview on Fox with the mother of the murdered teenager. For media trainers, SybrinaFulton’s interview was a fine example of control and consistency of message, despite the prodding of the host.
O’Reilly did most of the talking during the interview, asking plainly rhetorical questions while implicitly asserting that he was on the fair and balanced side of the debate. He offered assistance to his guest as the trial approaches saying “if you have anything you need, you come right to me”. Sadly it was never clear what this meant.
At the beginning of the interview, O’Reilly asked imploringly “was I wrong to say that Al Sharpton should apologize?” referring to comments made by the activist at an earlier press conference. Sybrina Fulton replied with calm sincerity “You want me to comment on that? I don’t know everything that’s behind it. …… So I’m not sure what response you want.” For once, O’Reilly gave in and moved on.
The PR Verdict: “A” for Sybrina Fulton. For grace under pressure and for not being sidetracked into a side issue .
PR Takeaway: When in doubt, bat the question back and repeat your key message. Sybrina Fulton was clear with a simple demand: her son’s death to be duly investigated. “I’m not sure what response you want,” was a line in the sand. She was not going to be pushed into a corner fighting someone else’s PR battle.
To see the interview click here.
What’s you PR verdict on Sybrina Fulton’s interview?