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.
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....Read More
It's the Achilles heel of way too many spokespeople. And it's completely preventable if you know what to do. The #1 reason why people underperform in media interviews is that they don't make the time to prepare in advance. You don't need a ton of time. Just 20-30 minutes. But for whatever reason, spokespeople seem to think they can improvise a media interview and have it go well.
No, I'm not talking about walking across hot coals. But there is one element of what Tony Robbins talks about that can be particularly helpful when it comes to preparing for a media interview.
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.
There's a line in The Art of War that says every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought. I really believe this is also true in media relations - a point that I expand on in this clip. I also give a real-life example of an interview I did a while back with The Canadian Press and how I put these techniques into practice (and how you can do it too).
"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.
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.
In less than 30 seconds, here are the two things that every great spokesperson brings to every single media interview!
Great key messages (by themselves) are not enough. You need to have the skills to excel at the 'chess match' of the interview as well. You need to have both of these things firing on all cylinders.
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.
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.
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...
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...
I asked a bunch of journalists for their best media pitching advice that they'd like to share with PR people. The best answer was from a journalist named Mitch Moxley. His advice was short but to-the-point: Don't pitch boring shit...
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...Read More
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'...Read More
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.Read More
Every year, associations spend millions of dollars trying to convince news outlets to cover their stories. The majority of these pitches suffer the same fate: deletion. With a few small changes, however, you can significantly increase your odds of getting a reporter's attention and providing you with the media coverage you're seeking.Read More
This usually goes down in one of two ways:
- The moment is finally here. You've pitched, you've pressed, you've cajoled and there you have it. Your first TV interview. Congratulations! Or...
- The moment is finally here. You've been pressured, you've been cajoled and you've contemplated therapy to help you cope with the knots in your gut as you await your first TV interview.