A simple guide to media training
|June 27, 2012||Posted by Dan Baxter under Media|
Every so often you witness one of those interviews.† A horribly uncomfortable exchange between journalist and spokesperson that causes you to twinge at the TV, squirm at your screen or wriggle at the radio and feel nothing but pity for the person suffering at the hands of their tormentor.
Nothing that is, apart from a huge sense of relief, that neither you, nor someone you represent, is receiving the grilling.† While brands have to successfully manage their reputation in more media than ever, nowhere can someone be as cruelly exposed as on live televisionÖ at the hands of Jeremy Paxman.
Just ask Chloe Smith, our current treasury minister who was last night at the receiving end of the sort of experience that will result in her running for the hills when a camera crosses her eye-line (via @guardian).† However one manís poison is another manís meat, and in this instance, the meat is the best example of why media training matters and preparation is crucial for any spokesperson.
The minister was on Newsnight to defend the governmentís latest volte-face, this time a planned rise on fuel duty (start watching from 06:20).† What is clear less than a second in, is that she has been thrown the most heinous of hospital passes.† What would Malcolm Tucker say? Probably something riddled with too many expletives to be included here.
Media Training Tips
However, here are five initial thoughts that spring to mind for any brand, organisation or individual could benefit from before stepping in front of a camera:
- Donít do the interview if you donít know the facts, and certainly donít be bullied into an interview if you donít feel informed
- Prepare key messages with supporting proof-points and evidence, and make sure you stick to them
- Know your onions: consider potential questions and hazards, and have a clear response Ė think about peripheral issues that might get thrown into the interview
- Learn the Jedi mind-trick of bridging (secret: it isnít really a Jedi mind-trick, but will help overcome the barrage of questions as seen here) Ė answer the question and then link your answer to a point you want to make before moving on
- Practice makes perfect (or at least plausible) Ė have a dry-run ahead of any interview with friends, loved ones or even better your trusty comms teams
Media interviews can and should be enjoyable opportunities for experts to share insight and knowledge with interested, objective professionals.† Itís only when the knowledge, insight and expertise isnít there that things can go startlingly wrong.