Adam Silver

Sets gold standard for news conferences


For many years in my media training workshops, I have strongly encouraged those I’ve been teaching (and their public and media relations advisors) to answer journalists’ questions clearly and concisely.

My personal and professional belief for more than 20 years has been that bridges should be built over rivers and canyons, not used to get from a journalist’s question to “what’s really important.”

Today, Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA), proved the effectiveness of this approach during the news conference in which he announced that L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life after audio of his racist rant went viral.

During the Q&A portion of the news conference, Mr. Silver clearly and concisely answered all questions from journalists.

Some of those questions were relatively straight forward. Others, like the bombshell posed by Lisa Guerrero of Inside Edition, were extremely complex:

If you want to build bridges, become an engineer.
"The word you used specifically was ‘outrage’. You said that you were personally outraged. Yet many people believe that they have known for years that this man is a racist slumlord and the NBA hasn’t done anything until today. Can you please answer why?"

His response: “I can’t speak to past actions other than to say that when specific evidence was brought to the NBA, we acted.”

Bottom line? If you want to build bridges, become an engineer. If you want to help your clients navigate the reefs and shoals of an information-driven social-media world, teach them to answer questions clearly and concisely, starting with the invaluable skill of pause-answer-stop.

Click here to view the news conference.

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Eric Bergman, BPA, ABC, APR, MC, FCPRS

Eric Bergman conducted his first media relations campaign during the summer of 1981. During his 30-plus-year career, he has worked in virtually every aspect of public relations and corporate communication. He has been self-employed since 1985.

For more than 20 years, his media training program, At Ease With the Media, has taught thousands of spokespeople to answer questions clearly, concisely and effectively, thereby providing them with the tools to manage exchanges with journalists to win-win outcomes.

Win-win outcomes, he believes, are the foundation on which excellence in all communication management (including media relations) is constructed.

Eric holds a bachelor's degree communication studies from Athabasca University and a two-year diploma in advertising and public relations from Grant MacEwan College. He is an accredited business communicator (ABC), an accredited public relations practitioner (APR), and a master communicator—which is the highest distinction that can be bestowed upon a Canadian member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). In 2014, he was named a member of the College of Fellows of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS).

If you're interested in learning about how his proven approach can help your spokespeople, please explore this website or contact Eric directly.