Media press conference: Maria Sharapova faces journalists over failed drug test

Sometimes when you have bad news its best to get in first.  Take action.  Get on the front foot.  Control the message. sharapovaThat’s exactly what Maria Sharapova did when she announced she had failed a drug test.  Journalists thought they were attending her retirement announcement.  What they got was a massive story no one saw coming.  Maria admitted her mistake. Explained why she had been taking the drug.  Apologised to her fans and to the tennis world.  Took full responsibility for the failed test.

There’s no doubt Maria will pay a penalty both in the form of a suspension and the likely fallout with her sponsors.  But in my view Maria Sharapova has done everything she can to protect her personal brand and reputation.  Sometimes the best thing you can do in a time of crisis is admit the mistake, apologise and be real.  Maria Sharapova did all of that in spades.


A personal crusade: giving the terminally ill choice at the end of life

mum polaroid good shotThis is a very personal story about my Mum who passed away a month ago. The story was published in the Daily Telegraph on November 15. I have had an overwhelming response to the article – it has resonated with so many people. My story is certainly not unique but that’s my point.



Nat Fyfe: Brownlow Medal Winner and A Grade Communicator

1443492135945Nat Fyfe deserves a second medal for a speech that was humble, self deprecating, warm, funny and eloquent all at the same time!  A great role model for his young fans (my 12 year old son included). It’s so refreshing to see a sports man who can communicate as well as he can play!


Media training: Being prepared for an online crisis

As mentioned before in our blogs, social media should work hand in hand with your mainstream media strategy.  So when you prepare your media crisis management plan, make sure it includes social media channels.  Organisations that are prepared with a proper plan can come out of crisis situation without damaging or losing its valued reputation.

Here are a few tips to get everyone prepared:

1. Who does what 

It is important that roles and responsibilities are assigned before a crisis hits so information can be shared appropriately. Establishing rules ensures your team won’t do or say something damaging.  Remember to include rules around the use of social media.  All staff, from the Execs right through to junior and casual staff should be across the rules of social media engagement especially when something goes wrong.

2. Response procedure

Although every situation is different, being prepared with potential responses and guidelines will allow you and your team to respond as quickly as possible. This is essential in the event of a crisis situation where responses must be given immediately through social media channels.

3. Identify potential scenarios

Identifying the potential risks your organisation may face will help the team understand the typical type of crisis that might hit. Practicing crisis scenarios will test your team members and make sure they know what to do and how to handle a situation that is thrown their way.

4. Keep it up-to-date

Review your plan regularly, don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure to check in and evaluate the plan on an ongoing basis, and update it as need be. Put a reminder in your diary.

Think of your crisis management plan as an insurance policy.  Hopefully you won’t ever need to use it, but boy will you be grateful you have one if a crisis hits your business.

Media Training: Surviving a tough press conference

Today, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) addressed the media about its role in the Bali Nine arrests. Although press conferences are becoming less common, there are certain occasions when they are necessary.  Times when your organisation truly has news to present, to rebut or to explain. In the case of the AFP, the Commissioner Andrew Colvin held the conference to defend its role and address incorrect statements made of police officers involved in the case.
If the subject is controversial, like accusations the AFP has endured over the ten-year period of the Bali Nine arrests, make sure you have your team of experts on-hand. Each spokesperson should be on the same page.  They should be unified in their responses.  Specific questions and answers should be prepared well in advance and if possible, role play before the event, so everyone feels confident and ready. Be sure to watch your interview back and be aware of any facial expressions or body language that could be misinterpreted.
If the pressure of holding a press conference is too much and you want to bypass traditional media completely, get your news out via social media. If your news is truly newsworthy, journalists will pick up on it. Or, you can offer an exclusive to one outlet, which almost always guarantees coverage however, you might put off other media by not giving them the option of covering your news.

Sydney storm information and updates on social media

Bird’s eye view ... Aleks Strikis (right) and a mate stand on a downed tree in Waverley.

As Sydney and other regions in New South Wales are ravaged by severe storms this afternoon, radio announcers do their best to keep listeners updated – the list of road closures and areas affected by black outs and power outages goes on and on and on.  From Picton to Cronulla, from Maitland to Woollongong – everywhere and nearly everyone has been impacted in some way.

The SES and power companies are calling for residents to report fallen trees, blackouts and other incidents via social media.  They simply do not have enough telephone operators to keep up with the number of calls.  They are urging anyone with power to use the internet and platforms including Twitter and Facebook to get the most up to date information.

Social media is such a powerful tool at times like this because its so immediate and so accessible.  It enables us to stay connected from almost anywhere.

We are long past these platforms being gimicks or just ”social”.   Social media is mainstream and its here to stay.


Media Friendly: Overcoming a fear of public speaking

Many Executives we work with are terrified of public speaking. Whether it is addressing the press or sitting in the hot seat in a live interview, the very thought of either can send high-powered business leaders into a spin. Here are some pointers geared to help you with your next public address.

1. Eye contact – the glance and grab affect
First thing first, establish and hold eye contact with the reporter/audience. Eye contact builds trust, and creates a sense of engagement with your audience. In your interview, or public address you may be offered the use of a teleprompter (there is now an app for this!). You need to speak fluidly with natural pauses and inflections, and not read straight from the prompter. The trick is to glance and grab a phrase while maintaining eye contact giving the impression you are speaking directly to the audience.

2. Yes, you can use notes, but only as a guide
Many times clients will ask to use notes when speaking, and the answer is yes. Just like the use of a teleprompter, you need to glance and grab the next point from your notes with the goal of speaking to your audience and not at your script. The key is knowing what you want to say and using the notes only to keep the facts straight and guide your delivery i.e. beginning, middle and end. This can be particularly useful when you only have a short time to speak.

3. Body language and facial expressions

Image result for julie bishop eye roll
A great interview or public address can all come undone with a roll of the eyes (think Julie Bishop’s recent reaction to budget cuts). This can happen when a reporter or audience member asks a question that comes left of field, or that you’re not prepared to answer. Your look needs to translate as calm, professional and well-equipped to answer any question that comes your way. In other words, employ your pokerface.

4. The mirror is your friend
Practice your posture and the way you stand before your interview or speech. Be aware of your tone of voice. Take your time with your responses and maintain a calm and professional presence. If you are delivering a speech, or a presentation practice purposeful gestures. If you want to move around, make sure you move deliberately and with purpose. Otherwise stand strong and still.

Everyone’s different. We’d love to hear your ideas on how you manage nerves. Imaging the audience in its underwear might be old school but maybe there’s some other strategies you’ve employed that have really helped?

Media training; why social media is now mainstream

There has been a lot of commentary about Hillary Clinton’s official announcement to run for President of the United States of America in 2016. Hillary chose to release an online video, which went viral with an accompanying tweet, to let the world know her plans for the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
No longer reliant on journalists, politicians are increasingly taking control of their own news via social media channels.   President Obama led the way in 2007 when he capitalised on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to launch his political agenda for his place in the White House. While previous Presidential campaigns have used the internet, none had taken full advantage of social networking platforms quite like Obama and his team.
Fast forward eight years and social media is no longer an extra or ”add-on” media outlet.  Social media is not only being used in a social way, but is used in ‘breaking news’; fast, realtime, up to the second, news.   So why are so many organisations still  reluctant to embark on and embrace social media as a powerful tool armed alongside its counterparts such as radio, TV and print media? Social media is no longer the new kid on the block or a fad but another effective and transparent way to engage with your audience. A social media strategy is just as vital to your business as your media and communication strategy.
What do you think of her video?

Media manners

When Charlotte, from this year’s reality show The Block, appeared on The Today Show this morning, I don’t think she was expecting the headline to be about swearing on live Television.

Increasingly we are seeing a lot more tolerance from the Producers of reality shows regarding swearing.
Even if you’re a habitual “swearer” the choice of language you use, especially on G rated television, can impact your credibility. Would you hire someone if they swore in an job interview? Same goes for television.
So how do you avoid the gaff of swearing? Practice your key messages, focus on why you’re doing the interview and lastly, avoid getting too conversational and falling into the trap of lazy communication by throwing in a swear word. Your interview will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, as Charlotte now knows!

Media Training: Writing a blog

Writing a blog? Here are some tips to get you started

The first thing to do is to think about your audience. What do they want to read about? Are they interested in learning new things, discussing particular topics, adding their two cents? They sure do.

Below are a few of my tips for creating and managing a blog.

Integrate with your website – from an SEO point of view, your blog should integrate with your existing content. The topic and themes of your blog should relate to the purpose of your website. That’s why your audience is on your website, now it’s time to give them more, a view, an opinion, a platform to interact.

Engage with your audience – your blog should be engaging.  Every post should have a clear angle, opinion or view. Remember to keep focused, your readers will value what you have to say if you stay on topic. Ask them to add their comments on various articles and encourage interaction wherever possible. Ask for feedback, respond to people’s contributions, build a community of followers. Readers love to interact, so make sure you’re friendly and welcoming.

Make it easy to read – research suggests that people view and scan web pages rather than read every last word on the page. This means short paragraphs, proper use of headings, subheadings, lists, bolds and italics, and generally anything that makes your content appear less intimidating to read. So keep your articles easy, quick reads. Provide lists wherever possible and break up the text. From an SEO point of view, you want to provide at least 250 words of copy.

Create punchy titles – when thinking about things to blog about, write articles that have punchy titles, ones that people search for through search engines and titles that are appealing and catchy. You want to draw people in and inspire their curiosity. Have some fun with alliteration, it can have a subtle but strong impact on your reader.

Keep them coming – try and keep your blog updated with at least two articles a week. Ideally, you need to be blogging every single day, especially if SEO is one of your key priorities. Otherwise, just try and keep things going. (We know how hard this is so just do what you can!)

words-1Images, images and more images – make sure you choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are now more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content in social media.

Edit/proofread your post, and fix your formatting
the editing process is an important part of blogging. Ask a grammar-conscious team member to copyedit and proofread your post.  In a properly formatted and visually appealing blog post, you’ll notice that headers and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text, and those headers are styled consistently. The style stays consistent from post to post. Maintaining this consistency makes your content (and your brand) look more professional.

Call to action – as with media training techniques, it is essential you get your call to action in. At the end of every blog post, you should have a call to action that indicates what you want the reader to do next – subscribe to your blog, register for a webinar or event, read a related article.

So now you’re ready to go – get blogging!  OR contact us at Mediafriendly to help you with your next blog!

Kate.Kate McKay