If there’s a mic anywhere near you always assume its on! Watch what you say both before, during and after the interview or press conference. Fortunately for this sportsman his slip up was embarrassing (for him) and endearing (for his audience). No damage done!
This week we saw Al Jazeera journalist, Mr Peter Greste walk free from a seven-year jail sentence in Egypt. Mr Greste was found guilty based on evidence that he had in his possession, namely video footage, supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood but his lawyers have said there was absolutely no substance to the allegations.
During his 400 days in prison, he maintained his innocence and was able to manage his expectations well throughout the process with the support of his family. It was during his press conference in Brisbane we all witnessed that love and support as his family sat by him while he delivered his sincere and very poignant address to his fellow members of the media.
Without a doubt, Mr Greste nailed the press conference. He began by genuinely thanking his family, this was heartfelt and meaningful and certainly came across on camera. Mr Greste tells a story, it is vivid and personal. His experience draws you in – this is a great technique to use when dealing with the media. He also names the campaign his family, along with the media, embarked on in order to release him – Journalism is not a crime #FreeAJstaff. He links the campaign to his social media sites – a clever call to action. What are your thoughts on his press conference?
We often hear from clients about their brilliant, show-stopping press releases yet they are baffled when they get no bites from busy journalists. Try these helpful hints when structuring your next press release.
- Know what angle you are going to take
Make sure in your pre-writing thinking you consider the angle of the story. Is the news interesting? Will anyone outside of your organisation care? Make sure you keep to the facts; what does your product, service or event have to offer readers.
- Know what outcome you want
Create interest in the headline and be direct. Make sure your release has a purpose. Keep in mind that your goal is to make journalists want to pick up the phone or send an email to find out more.
- Make sure nothing is missing
Is your news timely? Or has it passed its use-by-date? With online news sites giving readers up-to-the-minute news updates your release needs to be factual and informative. Make sure you don’t leave out useful information making your release newsworthy.
- Include a quote
Keep in mind the purpose of a press release – you’ve got news to share and a strong, descriptive quote will capture the attention of journalists. A quote also provides the journalist with name of your spokesperson and who they could potentially interview.
Lastly, make sure you do more than just email your press release to media contacts. Use your website to promote your news, preferably with a link on your home page. Not only are you adding fresh content to your site, search engines will love it.
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).
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?