Before your next big TV interview, you may want to consider taking lessons from a 14-year-old Canadian activist who recently crushed formidable businessman, investor and TV personality Kevin O’Leary in an on-camera interview.

Rachel Parent, founder of “Kids Right to Know” which campaigns for mandatory labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods, challenged O’Leary to a public debate after he referred to GM protestors as “just stupid” and suggested they stop eating as a way to “get rid of them.”

In disagreement of this teenage advocate’s very public stance against GM foods, O’Leary recently took Parent to task during a live television interview on the CBC show he co-hosts, The Lang and O’Leary Exchange.

What followed has become a viral video with more than 800,000 YouTube views to date.

In a assessment of the interview, American writer and media relations expert Christina Mozaffari states that the articulate teen “won” the showdown with O’Leary—who makes no apologies for his oftentimes brash and aggressive interviewing style. He even made it clear that he did not intend to be easy on Parent despite her age.

As the author points out, we can learn a lot from this debate because Parent uses a number of media relations best practices, including:

  • Staying on topic and refusing to go off on tangents;
  • Sticking to the facts, rather than discussing the hypothetical;
  • Not responding to negativity;
  • Doing her homework ahead of time, to ensure she was ready for O’Leary’s  tough questions; and
  • Ensuring her counter-arguments were effective.

If you haven’t seen the interview yet, I encourage you to do so—and to share it with any colleagues who may need a few media relations tips for their next big interview.

How would you handle yourself during an aggressive TV interview? How would you respond to accusations and attacks? Tell us by leaving a comment below.


A leader in the Canadian public relations industry, Andrea Lekushoff has more than two decades of experience as a communications strategist and trusted advisor for some of the world’s most respected brands. Email Andrea