Executives and entrepreneurs dedicate their lives to self improvement. They vie for the most prestigious schools. Many pursue post-graduate studies. They go on retreats, read books, listen to podcasts, attend conferences, do cleanses, meditate, do yoga, try intermittent fasting. They’re constantly on the lookout for a hack. An edge. Something that will make them smarter, more agile, better prepared, more successful.
But so many of these leaders share the same glaring vulnerability: They don’t actually know how to prepare for and conduct a great media interview. Many of them think they do. They think so because maybe they’re good at giving presentations, or they have a lot of self confidence or they’re great at networking. But media interviews are their own unique animal and to be great at them demands focus and training.
I was doing a media training session a few months back with a man in the financial services industry who was also finishing his studies in a graduate business program. As we were wrapping up and I was packing up my equipment, he said, “You know…they didn’t teach us any of this in business school. The people in my class are leaders at billion-dollar companies and I don’t think any of them would be able to excel at what we did here today. They’re not preparing us for this.”
Media interviews matter. Whether they’re proactive or reactive. Whether they’re about a product you’re launching or a crisis you’re managing. Media interviews are part of the public record. And thanks to the Internet, they’re there forever for everyone to see. Your colleagues. Your shareholders. Your employees. Your great grandchildren. The quality of your media interviews can impact your share price, your employee morale, your chances at getting funding, the perception of your brand.
Why are more leaders not taking action to address this vulnerability? Because whether you’re doing a media interview or driving down a busy highway, a blind spot isn’t a problem until it is. You can speed along, blissfully unaware of the danger lurking in your blind spot. On the road, that vulnerability can lead to an accident. With the media, it can lead to underwhelming interviews, lost opportunities, doors left open for your competition and, in the worst instances, the need for damage control or for you to work on your resume.
So while you’re downloading that list of books that Bill Gates recommended or signing up for that leadership conference in Idaho, make a point to get proper media interview training for you and the members of your executive team and eliminate that blind spot once and for all.