Media training is the blind spot

Media training is the blind spot

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.

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They'll judge you not on the crisis, but on how you handle it...

Bad things happen. They can happen in any sector or industry. For the most part, the public will not judge your organization on the circumstances of your crisis. They are much more likely to judge you on the way you handle it.

When is your media interview over?

When is your media interview over. That’s easy. It’s when they stop asking questions, right? Not so fast! There are a lot of things you can do or say after the last question that can derail your media relations plans. It’s never over until it’s really over. Here are a few things to consider on that note.

Why are people not doing practice interviews before speaking to the media?

One of the sad truths I’ve come to realize doing media training sessions in Canada and other countries is that the typical smart, career-minded professional will put WAY more work and preparation into a short, in-house presentation than they will for a media interview. I have my theories about why that is - namely, that they’re seeing it more as a conversation with the reporter than what it really is - an on-the-record interview that will be archived online forever.

I have this saying when it comes to media interviews, that ‘the first is the worst’. By definition, the first time you do it should logically be the worst. Most people do that first interview with a reporter though and they leave a lot of upside on the table. But what if you tried doing the first version of an interview with your in-house media relations person or with someone like me? Then you got some real, pull no punches feedback and tried it again. The second version of that interview will be significantly better than the first. Then, you do it with the reporter. The result is better media coverage.

One of the biggest reasons people mess up their media interviews

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.

The Art of War in media relations

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).

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.

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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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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Persistence

Persistence

I did a talk in January on the importance of doing videos for your business. For years, I've been telling companies and clients this but I refrained from doing it for my own business. The biggest reason is that it's outside my comfort zone. I prefer to be the guy behind the camera. But I asked everyone in that room to create a video and I promised to do one myself. So here it is. If I had to do just one video, this had to be the topic. Persistence. I truly believe that's the main reason I've had any degree of success in building a business over the past 14 years. The link to the video is in my bio. Thanks for watching and please share it with anyone who needs a nudge or a kick in the butt to pursue their goals. 

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Getting the media to pay attention to your association

Getting the media to pay attention to your association

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. 

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Quebec mayor by day, kitten killer by night

Quebec mayor by day, kitten killer by night

What is the deal with Canada's mayors? There's the crack video allegations swirling about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The resignation of Laval Mayor Alexandre Duplessis after being linked to a sex scandal. (Oh, and Mr. Duplessis was appointed after Laval's former mayor was forced out of office because of corruption allegations). Then there's the resignation of Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, who faces charges involving fraud, conspiracy and corruption... 

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Media relations is like a BBQ

Media relations is like a BBQ

Who doesn't love a good barbecue? The sizzle and smoke-infused goodness of your favorite meat on the grill. The tantalizing texture and flavor of grilled peppers, onions and buttered asparagus. And, of course, the palpable anticipation of family and friends as they await a meal, expertly cooked under the open sky. Few summer activities can rival the awesomeness of a barbecue that goes according to plan. But you might be surprised at how often things don't go according to plan...

 

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How to write a news release that won't get deleted

How to write a news release that won't get deleted

Ah, the news release.​.. ​The rotary phone of the modern PR industry. Still able to perform its intended function but, for all intents and purposes, a relic from another era. Is the news release dead? Perhaps not. But it sure is looking a little long in the tooth...

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Should you respond during a crisis?

Should you respond during a crisis?

Elissa Freeman (@elissapr) recently wrote an interesting piece on this topic for PR Daily. Her article was inspired by the recent Lululemon transparent yoga pants controversy but brings up some worthwhile issues and questions for people in the communications industry.

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Nail your next TV interview: Part 3

Nail your next TV interview: Part 3

Great TV spokespeople aren't born. They're made. And in this three-part series, we've tried to share some of the tips and tricks used by the people who make great TV interviews look effortless. In Part 1, we showed you what to do before your TV interview. In Part 2, we told you how to handle yourself during the interview. And in this final post of this series, we're going to share a few tips about what to do after the interview's...

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A reporter sounds off on the 'Guard Dog' approach to PR

A reporter sounds off on the 'Guard Dog' approach to PR

Journalists and public relations professionals have an interesting relationship. They depend on each other to do their jobs, but typically, they have very different goals in mind. For journalists, the main concern is securing the interview, getting the facts and hopefully...

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