The camera is always on...

Your media interview doesn't start when the reporter asks their first question. It starts the moment the phone rings, the moment you walk into their building or the moment they walk into yours.  And the interview isn't over when they say thank you and ask you how to spell your name. It's over when you've hung up the phone (and confirmed that you've hung up), when you leave their building and hear the door click behind you or when you see the journalist driving off into the distance... This unguarded, 'hot mic' moment of Sainsbury CEO Mike Coupe singing 'We're in the Money' is now part of his professional legacy. And it was totally preventable. 

Why you owe it to yourself to get proper media training this year

Why you owe it to yourself to get proper media training this year

Most companies and executives are obsessed with the idea of 'getting' media coverage. They send out news releases, pitch reporters, buy ads, create events/promotions and throw thousands of dollars at PR firms in the hopes of securing interviews. Far fewer, however, take the appropriate steps to prepare for the actual interview itself. The result....

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Should we ask a journalist for a correction?

You did an interview with a journalist but you or someone at your company didn't like one of the quotes in the story or didn't like the way your company was characterized. Should you go back and ask for a correction? Here's my take on that question.

Want the media to pay attention to you? Think more like a journalist!

"Is there any way to make your association's good news story more appealing to journalists?" Someone asked me this question after my talk on media relations at the CSAE National Conference in Newfoundland. Here's my take on getting reporters to pay attention to your media pitches... FYI, I reference my sister a few times in this clip. Just for context, so you know who I'm referring to, my sister is Carly Weeks, a health reporter at The Globe and Mail.

Advice to media relations pros: "Never stop learning"

The media landscape is always changing. When you think you've seen it all or when you think you're done learning, you'll be putting yourself and your clients in a vulnerable position. Keep learning. Pay attention to the changes from things like social media. Continue to adapt to the changing media environment.

Your key messages are too long!

One of the quickest things you can do to improve the quality of your media coverage is to focus on creating shorter, more powerful messages that tell your story in a way that will be interesting to journalists and your audience. 

When your messages are too long, journalists are forced to edit your answers, which increases the chances that a partial answer may be taken out of context.

So...how long should your messages be? This is my take on that question.

Be wary of repeating a reporter's negative language

The #1 most common mistake that people make in their media interviews? Repeating the negative language that reporters often use in their questions.  If you pay attention, you'll find quotes like these in most news stories, whether it's in print, radio or TV.  Why is it such a serious mistake? Because you end up telling your story using someone else's words and, in many cases, they're negative, controversial words you would never use to tell that story. If you can kick this habit, you'll be well on your way to better media coverage.

A media relations primer for Anthony Scaramucci

A media relations primer for Anthony Scaramucci

Apparently the new White House Communications Director doesn't understand how journalism works. Here's a quick primer:

  • If you're talking to a reporter, that's an interview.
  • Anything you say during an interview can be used by the reporter (unless you clarify and agree in advance that something is either 'background' or 'off the...
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Media spokespeople: Get out of 'CSI' mode!

Without realizing they're doing it, many media spokespeople put themselves in what I call CSI mode. They default to a role that's the equivalent of a suspect being interrogated by the police. And when it comes to conducting media interviews on behalf of your brand, that's not a winning approach...

Stop treating your media interviews like police interrogations

Stop treating your media interviews like police interrogations

You've seen it a million times on shows like CSI, Cold Case, Law & Order and NCIS. They cut away from a commercial and suddenly, you're transported to the interrogation room. It's just a table, a few chairs and a one-way mirror. But this is a room with a lot of baggage. Before anyone says a word, the power dynamic is already well established. There's no doubt about the fact that...

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Don't trust your spokespeople with a media training tourist

Don't trust your spokespeople with a media training tourist

Being asked to prepare a company's spokespeople to deal with the media is a huge honor and it's a big responsibility. One way or another, as a media trainer, your ability (or inability) to coach these people will impact the quality of their company's media coverage, their brand and, to an extent, their professional legacies. Because there's so much riding on the outcome of your media training program, if you're serious about preparing your executives to deal with the media as effectively as possible, you need to stay away from media training 'tourists'... 

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Don't be a media interview passenger

Don't be a media interview passenger

One of the biggest errors spokespeople make is giving the journalist way too much control over the interview process. Yes, the reporter gets to ask the questions. But that doesn't mean you should hand over 100% control of the exchange to them. If you do, I guarantee that you will be disappointed with your media coverage over the long term. Instead of asking you to participate in a media interview, imagine the reporter asked you to go on a car ride. 

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Reporters are not out to get you

Reporters are not out to get you

There are a lot of media coaches out there who like to push the idea that reporters are the bad guys. It’s a training approach founded on fear. It’s also (in my opinion) based on a false premise. It’s counterproductive. And it prevents spokespeople from understanding how they should really be approaching media interviews.  

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Why media relations is a must-have skill for today's municipal leaders

Why media relations is a must-have skill for today's municipal leaders

Municipal leaders, particularly mayors, have been in the headlines in Canada this past few years for a wide variety of reasons - some positive and others, well, not so much. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has to take the prize for the sheer amount of media coverage, but virtually all of that media coverage was negative. Michael Applebaum resigned as ...

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Shoving reporters is not a great media strategy

Shoving reporters is not a great media strategy

Another day, another media circus around Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. CBC reporter Steven D'Souza just posted this Vine video of one of the Mayor's aides physically shoving reporters out of the way. As you can see from the video, this is pretty aggressive stuff. D'Souza said in a later tweet that the shoving was much worse inside the office area.

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"Should I ask the reporter for their questions in advance?"

"Should I ask the reporter for their questions in advance?"

"Is it okay to ask the reporter to send me their list of questions before the interview?"

I get this question at least once a week. And the answer I give is a qualified "no". 

I get the impulse to want to ask the reporter for a nice list of all the questions they're going to ask you. After all, you want the interview (and resulting story) to be a success. You want to give yourself an edge. To have an early warning system for any potential surprises. Here's the problem: Getting the reporter's questions in advance is really a false security blanket that can cause more problems than it solves...

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