As a PR professional, one of my favorite things to do is study bad media interviews. If you’ve ever been on the internet, chances are you’ve probably seen some examples – think Sarah Palin, Charlie Sheen, and Kanye West. Aside from the obvious entertainment factor, these case studies are solid proof of why so many business executives are hesitant to put themselves in front of the media. Reputation matters, and a media misstep in front of the wrong person can spell disaster for a company that’s already fighting for the edge over their competitors.
At Barokas PR, we know that face time with the media doesn’t have to be scary – that’s why we love media training with our clients. It provides the opportunity for us to get on the same page in regards to key messages, our spokesperson’s starting skillset, and areas of improvement. Not everyone will approach media training the same way, but a good program should give your spokesperson the opportunity to do the following:
Develop a sharp media toolkit
Ever heard of bridging, flagging, hedging, hooking, or framing? They’re all tactics interviewees can use to maintain control of the conversation, regardless of the direction the reporter tries to take the interview. A well-trained spokesperson will understand how to transition away from tricky topics, highlight important messages, buy themselves time to think, or lead the reporter into a new set of questions without breaking the pace of conversation.
Practice your messaging
The worst media interviews meander around key talking points, which is why it’s important that your spokesperson goes into each interview with a defined purpose in mind. A well-trained spokesperson will tell your story in a conversational, engaging tone and back it up with the proof points that journalists crave. Ultimately, they’ll provide a call to action so compelling that your audience knows exactly what you want them to do. Perfecting this craft takes time, so the more practice you provide your spokesperson, the better off they’ll be.
Anticipate the reporter playbook
Your spokesperson won’t be the only one with a few tricks up their sleeve – reporters have their own ways of getting what they need for a story. A good media training program will anticipate tough interview situations ahead of time so your spokesperson isn’t blindsided when the reporter asks a loaded question or tries to put them on the defensive. When your spokesperson has a good idea of what’s coming, they can practice using their media toolkit to craft a purposeful response.
PR is all about relationships, and interviews are the best tool we have for building rapport with the media. They give us the chance to be personable, memorable, and in control of our story. With a good media training experience in their back pocket, your spokesperson can go into each interview with confidence knowing they’ve prepared themselves for success.