So it’s one thing to prepare a key message and weave it into a media interview…. it’s a whole new ball game (pardon pun) to do a Marshawn Lynch … but gee did he get worldwide attention and I think we all got the message! If you missed him take a look:
In our media training workshops, we will often get through an entire practice interview without a single mention of the organisation, or product the interviewee is there to talk about. When you have questions being fired at you it’s easy to forget exactly why you are there.
Even more surprising are the number of people we’ve worked with who have struggled to articulate exactly what their organisation does!
So how do you ensure your brand message comes through? Here are some tips to help with your interview preparation.
- Who are you/your company?
Who you are may relate to your vision and mission. Who do you want to be and how do you plan to leave your mark? These messages embody the core of your being, your values, and your competitive advantages.
- What do you do?
In basic terms, clearly and succinctly articulate what product or service you offer or provide to your clients. This isn’t a sales pitch so stick to the facts.
- What benefit do you bring to the audience?
Tell it as if someone else, an objective third party, was sharing it with a friend or colleague. It’s easier to trust that third-party voice, and it’s the same voice journalists write in, so it may help your story get picked up if your message is well-crafted.
- What evidence do you have to support your position?
This could be in the form of awards, recognition or testimonials from your best clients. Anything you can offer to validate your claims will enhance your credibility.
Once you have the messaging developed, it becomes your bible to inform and influence all content development, from your website to a media kit and the boilerplate of press releases. It will also play into advertising content, if you place paid media. So now there’s a consistent voice across all platforms: earned (editorial), owned (website and social media) and paid (advertising).
Media training is so much more than just being “camera ready” with key messages prepared.
Media training should delve deeper to ensure an organisation has recognised potential risks (commonly referred to as an issues audit) and then developed a media plan which will set out exactly what staff should do in the event of an organisational crisis.
A crisis, well handled, doesn’t have to escalate to the point of becoming a public relations disaster. Being prepared with a list of possible scenarios and potential incidents will help manage sensitive or emerging issues in the media.
Below is a list of the steps involved in preparing a comprehensive and concise issues and crisis media management plan.
- identify the issue/incident
- what is the impact? What is the level of risk?
- highlight who in the organisation owns the issue
- who are your stakeholders?
- identify your media spokesperson
- what is your media strategy – is this a reactive response or proactive opportunity
- what is your media response.
Make sure the appropriate people have agreed with the media strategy and the media responses are approved. Having prepared this plan in advance will ensure a speedy and coordinated response time should any issue or incident occur.
Outdoor interview at a train station – what could possibly go wrong?
Who plans a press conference on a station platform in peak hour?
Not sure the Premier was going for laughs but this makes for very funny viewing.
Oh dear. This radio interview is a classic example of all the things you shouldn’t do when you talk to a journalist.
1. Agree to an interview when you have not prepared properly. You should be very clear about the point you would like to make – don’t ‘wing’ it.
2. Agree to an interview whilst driving a car. You need to be 100% focused on the interview.
3. Have someone in the background trying to prompt you. In my experience this NEVER helps.
4. Stop the interview mid way through and complain that the questions being asked were not the questions you were expecting.
5. Hang up on the journalist.
By way of background the interview features Tom Tilley from Triple J talking to Kathy Ward from Chic Model Management about skinny models.
As we all know an apology is about so much more than the word ‘sorry’. It’s about tone of voice. It’s about body language. Does the person offering the apology look and sound sorry?
When Geoff Huegill faced the media pack camped outside his home recently to apologise over his arrest for alleged drug possession, one can only imagine how uncomfortable and nervous he must have been. It was a brave thing to do.
But … watching his apology on the 6pm news I was struck both by the language he used and the smirk on his face. He described the episode as a ”commotion” and then smiled directly into camera as he delivered his “I’m sorry” speech.
Body language and tone of voice MUST match the words you say – otherwise your audience just won’t buy the message.
Here’s hoping Geoff takes a big dose of humility before his court appearance in a few weeks. I actually have no doubt he really is sorry. He shouldn’t be afraid to show that.
As for the big, black get away car …. it might be a good idea to trade it in for something more discreet and inconspicuous. A humble Mazda would do the trick.
Australians are champions when it comes to peppering their speech with uums and aahhs. Younger Aussies, particularly girls have replaced uum with “like”. Others have a tendency to overuse a favourite phrase: “‘to be honest”, ‘like I said before’, ”actually” and ”ectetera” just to name a few.
Old habits die hard and a few uums and aahs in my book don’t really matter – but when a presenter or spokesman uses them in every sentence it’s a habit that can really distract from the message.
While I’m yet to find a magic pill to cure this verbal afflication I really encourage my clients to slow down and before answering a question to take a breath. Rather than uttering an um, try pausing. Give your brain a chance to catch up and forumulate an answer. As well as buying some much needed thinking time, a deliberate pause will provide punctuation in your delivery. A pause can help to emphasise a word or a point, it can also provide some much needed light and shade in your speech pattern.
The second exercise you can try (and I’ve shamlessly stolen this idea from Mr Media Training, Brad Phillips) is to practice delivering a 30 second speel about anything without an uum, aahh or verbal stumble. Any inanimate item will do as a topic: your phone, handbag, a landmark – record yourself and listen to it back. Remember to pause whenver you are tempted to throw in an uum! With a little practice and some self awareness there is no doubt anyone can reduce what I call verbal garbage.
Recently Peta Credlin, well known in political circles as Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff made an unfortunate slip of the tongue when facing the media over a drink driving charge. I’ve watched this clip a few times just to make sure I didn’t miss something ….
She addresses the waiting media pack with what seems to be a prepared speech. She acknowledges her mistake, thanks police and the courts and then says ….
“Justice doesn’t have to be done, it has to be seen to be done.”
Watch the clip and see if you agree with me.
I’m sure it was an honest mistake.
Incredibly The Australian fixed up her gaffe and quoted her as saying “Justice doesn’t just have to be done, it has to be seen to be done.”
But when her boss and other politicians are so harshly judged and scrutinized by the media, I wonder why Ms Credlin”s mistake was not even mentioned and in the case of The Australian, her quote was doctored so that the mistake was rectified.
What do you think?
I made my debut last night on Paul Murray Live – broadcast nightly at 9pm on SKY News.
I enjoyed some “robust” discussion with Gary Hardgrave, Jamilia Rizvi and Mitch Catlin on issues including Tony Abbott’s “sex appeal” slip, PEFO, Holden pay cuts and more.
Here’s the link to the podcast.