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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/