"I would never recommend that the accused go before the camera, especially if it's a hot-button issue that could be career-ending,"
Humphries says. "A situation like that is charged with emotion, so it's easy to become defensive. It's best to get a spokesman
— your attorney, perhaps the office manager, a well-spoken staff member. Like the attorneys in a divorce case, the spokesman
helps take the emotion out of it."
What if an accused veterinarian is determined to speak for himself or herself in front of the camera?
"In that case, they should go into what I call 'message-delivery-robot mode,' " Humphries says. "They should deliver their
message quickly in almost a dead-pan manner, but use statements that show they are human and caring."
Many reporters, Humphries says, like to ask "what if" or speculative questions, such as, "We talked to another veterinarian
and he doesn't seem to have this problem. Why is it a problem here?"
The best way to handle such questions is to avoid speculation, Humphries says. "One might say, 'I don't know who you talked
to or the situation over there, but what I do know is, [positive statement about how things are handled in one's own practice.]' "
Veterinarians facing questions about themselves should remember that, when being interviewed, "your goal is not to participate
in a question-answer session, as odd as that may sound," Humphries says. "Rather, your goal is just to state your position.
Answer the main question, then deflect and bridge to your message. If you permit a series of questions, all you do with each
answer is beg another question that leans toward the negative."
Dr. Jim Humphries
Humphries' one-day workshops on media-crisis techniques are free to all state veterinary medical associations. Fort Dodge
Animal Health covers the expenses. He has presented the workshops in all but about a dozen states, he says, some of them more