Remember Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl? The NFL instituted a change to the half-time show after that incident - a change that you can use to your benefit in your media interviews...
Media interviews can be stressful. After all, there’s a lot on the line. And while no two people are exactly the same, as someone who helps coach people to do better media interviews for a living, I can tell you that there are some very common sources of interview anxiety. Here are the most common reasons people are stressed out about their media interviews (and some tips for minimizing that stress so that your interview goes well) and you can get that great coverage you’re hoping for:
Worry #1: They could ask me anything.
This is the biggest source of anxiety prior to an interview. Your mind starts racing with all the things they ‘might’ ask you and you spiral down a rabbit hole of terrible hypothetical topics. In reality, a media interview is a negotiated interaction. If it’s a proactive story you’re pitching, you know what the topic is. If it’s a reactive story where they’re calling you, the reporter should give you a clear overview of the focus of their story. Once you know the focus, it’s your job to craft some high-quality remarks that cater to that focus and tell an actual story that the reporter’s audience would find interesting. Could they go off script and ask you something totally out of the blue?Read More
Being smart and being nice. Sound strange? Those are actually two of the worst characteristics to bring into your media interview. Now, I’m not saying don’t be smart and don’t be nice. But in this video, I talk a little bit about how these two conversational habits can hurt the effectiveness of your media interviews.
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.
Take a leap of faith and throw the teleprompter away (or at least sell it on eBay). When your executive does a corporate video reading from a teleprompter, they look stiff and stilted. There's something about reading from a screen that just takes the soul out of your videos. I know you want to stick to the script. But there's a better way.
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).
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.
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
As communications director to Anthony Weiner, Barbara Morgan was probably secretly awaiting some controversial gaffe by a public figure that would distract the media's attention from her serial sexting employer. Well, mission accomplished. The problem (for Morgan, at least) was that she, herself, was the source of the controversial distraction. While reacting to news that a former intern had written a disparaging article about Weiner and his mayoral campaign in the New York Daily News, Morgan launched into a hard-core, foul-mouthed tirade about the former intern while speaking to a reporter...Read More
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...Read More