Why you HAVE to review/critique your own media coverage - as uncomfortable as it might be


I had a refresher media training session with a client last week - the CEO of a large not-for-profit. While we were chatting, I asked what she had thought of the video of her simulated TV interview that I had sent after our initial session back in the spring. She got this sheepish look on her face and said, “…I haven’t watched it yet.”

I’m guessing she’s not the only one. I just assumed that when I sent people the videos of their TV interviews from our training sessions, that they were watching them, analyzing their performance and looking for ways to improve. But I was ignoring one fundamental truth. For many people, watching/reading/listening to your own media coverage can be incredibly uncomfortable.

I get it. People - especially those who demand a lot of themselves (e.g. perfectionists) - often wish they had handled part of the interview differently. Some people just don’t like how they look on camera. Whatever the reason, they let their media coverage (or simulated media training coverage) sit in the cloud or on a hard drive, unread, unwatched, unlistened to.

If you’re looking to give the best media interviews possible, ignoring your coverage is a huge lost opportunity. As uncomfortable as it might be, revisiting your coverage with an objective eye is one of the BEST ways to improve your media interviewing skills.

When you don’t revisit your media coverage with a critical eye, here are the kinds of things you’re missing:

  • Finding out which quotes the journalist actually chose to put in their story - this is arguable the most important reason to study your coverage. You can find out what resonated with the journalist and adjust/adapt accordingly for future interviews.

  • Seeing if the quotes the reporter chose were in line with the messages you had written prior to your interview. Again - very important! This is the name of the game, after all. Figuring out the quotes you want to have in the story BEFORE the interview and then navigating the interaction in such a way that the journalist finds them irresistible.

  • Seeing if you fell prey to any of the typical pitfalls of a media interview, such as physical tics (swaying, shuffling, wandering eyes), repeating negative language, speculating, making up content on the fly, being defensive, being boring, too much jargon, etc.

  • Seeing how your quotes were used in the large context of the story. Did your competitor get better coverage (more quotes, a photo, quotes higher up in the story)? Did your quotes set the tone and even influence the headline?

Remember that famous quote from George Santayana? “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” This goes for media interviews as well. For 2019, I’m really going to be pounding on this idea with the people I get to work with. I will encourage them to force themselves to watch/read/listen to their media coverage in the spirit of self improvement and professional development.

Is watching your media coverage uncomfortable? You bet. But ask yourself what’s more uncomfortable? Spending a few minutes revisiting your media coverage and making notes so that you can get better? Or ignoring your coverage and staying at the same level of interviewing skill and making the same missteps time after time after time?