Almost every corporate decision-maker feels they are too busy to invest a few hours for media training rather than on numbers. But problems arise once they find they are misquoted by the media and its affecting their organizations corporate reputation badly. Then they’re more than willing to pull out the stops to do damage control.
To avoid this damage control scenario in the 1st place and to help you prepare your company’s executive spokesperson for media interviews, try briefing them the following tips. At the least, it may help keep them out of trouble. Also it will help them be a little more effective.
1. Key messages. Use a few approved key messages and keep hitting them constantly.
2. Straight-forward statements. Be as positive and enthusiastic as possible. Ensure that he / she avoid negative language and attitude and even body language.
3. Succinct answers. Limit them to about 30 seconds in length — or maybe 60-75 words — per question. This makes their responses easier to capture and understand.
4. Use layman language. Unless specifically asked limit the amount of statistics, names, acronyms and technical jargon they use. The more complex the subject, the more they need to simplify.
5. Story time. Help the interviewer (and his/her audience) create a mental picture and leave them with a notable message.
6. Treat the media person as you would a customer. Courtesy, empathy and human kindness usually go a long way.
7. Check to ensure the reporter gets it. It’s OK to ask: “Do you see what I’m saying?” And if they aren’t, back up.
8. Avoid assumption, ridicule or criticism. Only talk about what’s real, what you know to be true, and what you might suggest constructively.
9. Enthusiasm: Intensify up your enthusiasm about 25 percent during the interview. Reporters are trained to be cynical and they’ll tend to discount your story. If you don’t treat your topic as if it were important, how can you expect a reporter to?
10. Big picture.” Close the interview by finishing the statement, “If there’s one point that you should remember…., and re-state the most important key message.