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  • Writer's pictureCrisis Shield

How Much Damage Can A Bad Media Interview Really Do?

Source: ASX 2024

A lot, according to Woolworths' shareholders.


ASX statistics are a blunt notice of the true impact on the reputation and bottom line of a bad interview.


We often see a dip after a bad interview. In the case of Woolworths, that dip has now become a trough.


Contrastingly, Coles seems to be dining out on Woolworths’ error. Coles CEO Leah Weckert, who was also interviewed on the same Four Corners program, gave what could be framed as a cool but measured interview, and managed to keep the brand in a solid position.


Shareholders seem to agree, based on Coles' ASX share price!

In what can be construed as an attempt to win back customers and earn some goodwill, Woolworths has announced a significant price reduction on hundreds of items.


It’s not unreasonable to interpret this as a desperate move to climb out of the trench that outgoing CEO Brad Banducci seems to have dug for them.


Banducci created a PR storm when he attempted to stop an interview with ABC Four Corners reporter Angus Grigg. The Australian Financial Review was quick to label it a ‘car crash’ interview (which may remind some readers of the ‘trainwreck’ interview given by the now former Optus Director of Corporate Affairs Sally Olerich on 2GB in late 2022).


When senior leaders who represent a major corporation front up to media interviews, they are representing the brand. What they say and how they conduct themselves will be judged as representing that brand.


Banducci had no excuses for this poor performance. The interview was scheduled; it wasn’t a doorstop (i.e., caught off-guard in a carpark or on the street), he has a substantial media team and advisors to assist with preparation, and the issues were well known by every Australian. There were no surprises.

Why did it go so wrong?


Having assisted senior executives in delivering a media interview (and often delivering them myself), there are a few key things I’ve learnt that help make an interview a success:


  • Have a position. In this case, prepare sound rationale for your position of pricing of items for sale at Woolworths.

  • Acknowledge the gaps; admit where improvements could be made.

  • Don’t be defensive when there is evidence that you could do better.

  • Be well prepared for the ‘gotcha’ moment when the journalist has done their homework and has hard evidence that contradicts your claims.

  • Your responses should be aligned to your corporate values! These are not generic statements for your website and annual report – they should be what you live by.

  • Stand in your stakeholder’s (or customer’s) shoes. What would they be expecting? The journalist is the channel to your stakeholders.

  • Dressing to assimilate with the frontline staff is noble but can also come across as disingenuous. If you’re a CEO, you’re a CEO. Own it and dress accordingly.


Do you feel confident that your leadership team could manage a complex planned interview or, even more challenging, an unplanned media (doorstop) interview? If not, we can assist in preparing your spokespeople and their handlers for the expected and unexpected interview, on camera, online or on radio. Contact us at or call me (Allan Briggs) on 0417 160 120.


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