How to Answer: How Can You Justify Making So Much Money?

Brad Phillips challenged other PR pros how to answer this tough question.

It’s the single hardest media training question for spokespersons to answer.

Let’s say you’re a top executive from a not-for-profit association, a quasi-governmental organization, a membership group, or a utility company. You work for a group that depends on taxpayer funding, private donations, or middle-class ratepayers. You make $600,000 per year. Or $800,000 per year. Or $1.2 million per year. Here’s the killer question:

“How can you justify making $800,000 per year?


Several PR pros made good efforts but made mistakes in their answers that left them vulnerable to attack. Be sure to read the rest HERE.

Brad Phillips gives a great answer:

My approach borrows from pieces of the commenters above. In an ideal world, the organization that is paying high salaries uses an outside “benchmarking” firm to establish what comparable wages are. If that’s true – and if the executive is paid something close to the median, I prefer this response:

“You’re right that I’m fortunate to be paid well for my work. I agree that we owe it to our members to be fiscally responsible, which is why no executive in our company makes more than the average for other executives in comparable positions. We think the 50 percent mark is perfect – it’s high enough to attract top talent who can serve our members well, but low enough to respect the contributions generously provided by our members.”

About Chuck Norton

I write about politics, education, economics, morality and philosophy.
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