Media Training: Preparing and Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Successful media relations are built; credible media relations must be earned. Overnight sensations last just that long…for a moment. They are often forgotten the next day. And, stellar reputations can be destroyed in an instant.

So, whether across the table from a news reporter, under the glare of TV lights, or simply behind your desk with phone in hand, media interviews often yield the greatest opportunity for an author, expert or business leader and yet pose many challenges to strategic communications.

Preparation Shortcuts

With careful preparation, you can deliver your messages with poise and focus — turning the interview into an opportunity to present your marketing messages to thousands of readers, viewers and listeners with remarkable and even profitable results.

Take the Lead

* Start the relationship
* State your thesis
* Stick to the subject

Be a Teacher

* Speak in headlines
* Use simple language
* Pause, leave space for questions
* Explain acronyms
* Use examples and stories
* Use metaphors and visuals

Beware of Pitfalls

* Silence is not your enemy
* Don’t recognize absent third parties (references or rumors)
* Don’t repeat negatives
* You are never ever“off the record”
* Watch for the paraphraser
* Refrain from ‘off the cuff’ remarks

Have Your 20/2/20/2 Message Prepared

Be able to tell your message in 20 seconds, 2 minutes, 20 minutes and/or 2 hours.

Don’t Get Lost in Translation: Importance of Body Language

Keep in mind that you may have perfected a great message, you might know your media medium and your audience, but i f you can’t pull off the act of communication it will all be in haste. In nearly all interviews, how you say something is as important as whatyou say. The most retainable messages come from an enthusiastic tone of voice, relaxed body language, and the confidence you exude.

Research has shown that 55% of a message’s credibility comes from non-verbal sources. Tone and attitude account for 38% believability and only 7% of a message’s believability comes from verbal messages—the words you’re actually saying. So, don’t worry, be happy!

Don’t Forget Your Agenda—Be Active

The most common mistake committed in interviews is to become so fixated on the questions that you lose sight of your own agenda points and become a passive respondent. Don’t feel obliged to answer every question specifically . The most effective spokespeople listen for the bigger issue behind each question, and address that issue as they choose. This is done th rough the technique of “blocking and bridging.”

Use the art of blocking and bridging to stay on track with your own message points and to taking control of the interview. Typically in a non-argumentative, friendly interview environment an appropriately positioned answer will lead the reporter in the direction, which you’d like to go.

They are there to gather facts and sound bites and ultimately share your story with their audience. A reporter just wants to file a great story using your uniquely crafted colorful messages; it’s a win-win.

Kristi Hughes is an Account Manager at Smith Publicity, Inc. Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity is one of the world’s leading promotional firms, specializing in book publicity. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, the company has worked with over 900 individuals and companies–from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and businesses representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international with offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, and London. For more information about Smith Publicity, Inc., please visit www.smithpublicity.com.