If you run a business, the last place you ever want to be is facing Anne Robinson in the Watchdog studio, answering for the failings of your company.
She is not an easy interviewer to face – combative and opinionated.
Watch what happened when Eileen Downey, from Britannia Hotel Group, which owns Pontins, was held to account for failings found by Watchdog at one of its holiday camps.
Mrs Downey didn’t take the usual approach to handling a crisis communications interview – to issue an apology and promise an investigation.
She went on the attack and fought fire with fire.
I think her approach was actually very successful, because she had prepared carefully and knew her stuff.
She had a pretty strong argument: that her company had only taken over Pontins a matter of weeks before, was making changes and didn’t want to make staff redundant by closing down inadequate holiday camps.
And she was not afraid to point out holes in the Watchdog case, making the point that they had invited the crew to look at the changes and offered them the opportunity to film again.
Even so, she doesn’t elicit much sympathy. I rather think that if she had made the same arguments but also apologised for the problems faced by the holidaymakers who had complained and promised some kind of compensation, she might have left the viewer with a more positive impression.
What did you think of her approach? What preparation would you do if you were faced with a crisis communications interview?