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Media Training: Essendon Assistant Coach Under Media Fire

It’s hard to believe that Mark Thompson, Essendon’s Assistant Coach would volunteer to sit on a Fox Footy Panel right now without thoroughly preparing for the interview.  Afterall, journalists and sports commentators are circling the club like a school of hungry sharks, wanting answers about the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs following the Government’s investigation into suspicious sports supplements.

Media Lesson Number 1. If you agree to talk to the media on any issue you prepare first.

  • What are your key messages?
  • What are your boundaries?
  • How will you push back on questions that you cannot answer?

The club and some players are currently being officially investigated by ASDA.  This is one of the biggest stories to hit the AFLand when the story broke it made media headlines around the world.

Take a look at this short snippet of Mark Thompson looking awkward and unprepared.

Mark Thompson on Fox Footy

Remember – always weigh up the pros and cons of talking to the media.  What is your objective when you agree to be interviewed and what’s the message you want to get across.

If you don’t know why you are talking or don’t feel confident about getting your message across, you need to ask yourself one important question.  Why am I doing this interview?

Not all publicity is good publicity.  Sometimes a bad interview can totally ruin a brand.

 

 

Media Training Tips: When is an interview really over?

You may have noticed a growing trend for the longer form news programs like Sunday Night on Channel 7 and Sixty Minutes on Channel 9 to film their guests arriving and then leaving their interview. Often the cameraman will have buttoned on so that the cameras can capture the guest arriving. At that point perhaps they will show the guest looking nervous or arriving with a team of PR and support people who would usually stay off camera.
Similarly at the end of an interview the journalist will thank their guest and signal that the interview is over. The cameraman however does not button off. He keeps rolling while the journalist makes idle chit chat. What the producers are hoping is that the guest will say something far more revealing in those final few moments when they think the interview is over.
Take a look at this recent interview with James Magnussen. The journalist is Chris Bath. She thanks James for his time but then throws in one last “empathetic” comment.
Remember – from the time you greet the journalist until the time you actually leave the building you are on the record. Don’t be fooled by these kinds of throw away comments, jokes or asides.

Have a look at the video and let me know what you think.

James Magnussen talks to Sunday Night

 

Media Training: Tony Abbott talks to Leigh Sales

I couldn’t resist posting this interivew.  It’s game, set and match to Leigh Sales.  Expect to be roasted if you don’t prepare for an interview and please don’t ever comment on something you know nothing about!

 

Even The Wiggles Need Media Training

Even experienced media operators like The Wiggles need media training.  Following the announcement that Sam Moran, AKA Yellow Wiggle, would be replaced by Greg Page (the original Yellow Wiggle) – the gang thought they’d make an appearance on the Today Show with Richard Wilkins.  I guess Anthony and co thought Richard would go easy. He didn’t.
The lack of preparation for this interview is simply stunning.  As far as awkward TV moments go – this is GOLD.
Remember:
1. Even if the journalist is a friend, he/she still has a job to do.
2. Always prepare.

Media Training Tips: Slow Down!

Media Training tips and hints.

Whether its print, radio or television it’s incredibly important to slow your delivery down.  Not only will this help the journalist and his/her audience keep up with you and process what you are saying, it’s also helpful because;

* many print journos still use note taking and shorthand to record interviews.  If you speak too quickly you’ll make it harder for them to keep really accurate notes.

* radio and television journalists might want to shorten your answers by editing your responses. It can be very difficult to find edit points when people speak very quickly.  In my experience these “fast talkers” don’t just speak quickly, they also forget to pause.

If you have a tendency to speak very quickly, particularly when you get nervous try to remember to breathe!  Taking a breath will force you to pause.  And don’t be frightened to make your point and then stop.   Journalists leave those awkward, pregnant pauses for a reason….. It’s a strategic ploy to get you to say more than you would like.  Make your point.  Stop.

 

 

 

How to be a great media spokesperson.

What’s the secret to being a great media spokesperson?

1. You need to be authentic.

2.  You need to be an expert on the topic.

3. You need to tell the truth!

It’s that simple.

When it comes time to talk to a journalist hopefully you will have prepared.  You will have constructed 3 or 4 key messages that will help get your point across succinctly and effectively.  Then, once the interview starts, you should feel confident enough to really trust yourself to speak from the heart.  Your key messages should just roll off the tongue and you should believe in what you’re saying.

If you are authentic your audience is more likely to engage with you.  Whilst they may not agree, if they trust you then it follows that they will listen and consider your point of view.

But beware of spinning the truth.  Audiences are more media savvy than ever and can detect a tall story from a mile away.

If you’ve made a mistake often the best way of minimizing more damage is by simply admitting the error and apologizing.  But apologize properly.  Don’t just utter the words.  Say “I’m sorry” like you really mean it.

As a great example of what NOT to do, take a look at the clip below, which features the former CEO of BP.  Note that this was just one of several media PR disasters that ultimately cost him his job.

BP CEO life back

“off the record” interviews.

In Hollywood movies and even local TV drama you’ll often hear journalists asking questions “off the record”.  It’s presented as an opportunity to squeal on a bad boss or blow the whistle on a corrupt organisation.  In real life it’s more commonly used to get some background information or perhaps to give an interviewee the confidence to say a little more than he or she ordinarily would.

I think it’s a mistake to speak off the record.  Although most journalists will keep their word, some might be over ruled by their producer or editor and in extreme cases where the courts become involved journalists may have to decide if saving your bacon is worth a prison sentence!  (Also remember they are human beings and some human beings love to gossip.)

A safe rule of thumb is if you are uncomfortable with the idea of seeing the information in print, don’t share it.  Easy!

But if you do choose to go ahead with an off record interview I suggest the following:

1.  Only talk to journalists you have a good and ongoing relationship with.  They are less likely to burn you than someone you’ve just met.

2.  Check first with your communications team.  There maybe more to the story you don’t know about or a communications plan you are about to sabotage.

3.   Weigh up the pros and cons of speaking out.  Once you’ve disclosed information you can’t take it back.

Even if you aren’t specifically named, your identity maybe obvious to those in the know.

 

When repeated messaging can backfire.


A recent report on Lyme Disease for Channel 7′s Sunday Night highlighted the dangers of “over training” for media interviews. The spokesman for NSW Health, Dr Jeremy McAnulty was edited to show he repeated what was described in the story as a “well-rehearsed line” over and over again.
Journalists are very cynical about spokespeople who stick so closely to key messages that questions become obsolete.
I’ve attached a link to the Sunday Night story. Watch the way Channel 7 has edited Dr McAnulty. In my opinion Channel 7 has played a fair game. Dr McAnulty and other experts who face the media need to be careful about rote learning key messages prepared for them by PR consultants. Journalists are a wake up to the “stick to my message at all costs” school of media training.
http://au.news.yahoo.com/video/national/watch/28712965/lyme-disease-outbreak/