June 2011: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 30, 2011 – 6:32 am

If this month’s number one media disaster surprises you, it means only one thing: You’ve been locked in a room without access to email, the phone, social networks, friends, newspapers, radio, television, or the Internet.

(Either that, or you have an iPhone on AT&T’s network.)

Without further ado, here are June’s five worst video media disasters!

#5 (Part One): Michele Bachmann Double Feature

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a presidential candidate seeking the 2012 Republican nomination, was involved in two media disasters this month: one that she handled perfectly, and the other, well, not so much.

The Bad: It sounded good when Ms. Bachmann said she has the “spirit” of John Wayne – who, like her, was from Waterloo, Iowa. But John Wayne isn’t from Waterloo. That was John Wayne Gacy, the mass murderer who killed 33 boys.


#5 (Part Two): The Good

It’s a good idea to avoid sexist language. You can start by never calling a woman a “ditz,” an “airhead,” or “a flake.” Chris Wallace learned that the hard way when he called his guest, Ms. Bachmann, a “flake.” She responded perfectly, simultaneously elevating herself as a serious candidate and diminishing Chris Wallace as a serious host. Mr. Wallace apologized later the same day.


#4 : FIFA President Sepp Blatter Scolds Press, Storms Out

FIFA, the international organization that oversees soccer’s World Cup, has been mired in months of dreadful press, highlighted by alarming corruption and bribery charges.  

FIFA President Sepp Blatter faced the press in a testy press conference a few weeks ago, during which he was asked whether FIFA was in “crisis.” His words said no. His defensiveness suggested otherwise.

#3: Stop. Just stop. Seriously, stop. Stop now.

When the Australian Broadcasting Corporation sent a reporter to a town called Woodside to ask residents how they felt about a local detention center, they got an unexpected bit of aggressive message control. Fast forward to 3:08, where the unusual fireworks begin. 

Click here to see my full analysis, Three Recent Must-See Media Disasters.

#2: Wait…Paul Revere Warned The British?

Oh, Sarah Palin. I really don’t want to include you in this list every month. I get nasty comments charging me with political bias every time I do (no matter that the number one disaster on this list belongs to a Democrat).

But come on. Paul Revere warned the British not to take away our guns with his shots and bells? Plus, what’s with your confusing word structure? If you were a 1980s computer, you would be awarded a “syntax error.”

#1: Anthony Weiner’s Offensive PR Offensive

Not fair, Anthony Weiner. Your self immolation was so spectacular, no one on this list even had a chance of catching up with you. After getting caught sexting naughty photos to strangers, Mr. Weiner:

  1. 1. Denied the charges, claiming his account had been hacked.
  2. 2. Said that although he hadn’t sent the photos, he couldn’t rule out “with certitude” that the erect undies shot was of him.
  3. 3. Held a tearful press conference to admit he had sexted the photos himself, but would refuse to resign.
  4. 4. Watched helplessly as a nude photo of his…ahem…member…was released.
  5. 5. Saw his private news about his wife’s early-term pregnancy announced to the world.
  6. 6. Saw yet another batch of sexy gym photos released. 
  7. 7. Resigned in shame.

Although his two press conferences were also dreadful, this month’s winning losing video belongs to Mr. Weiner’s first defiant hallway interview, in which he sanctimoniously blasted reporters.

Click for our full analyses of this incident: Anthony Weiner’s “Bulge” Photo Crisis, and Weiner Press Conference: Responsibility Without Sacrifice.

BONUS #1: Chris Christie Yells At Woman. For a Question She Didn’t Ask.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn’t like a question from a constituent. In order to have given a more stereotypically New Jersey response, he would have had to have added “fuggedaboutit.” 



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NOTE TO READERS: See you back here after the long 4th of July weekend. May you spend some relaxing quality time with your friends and family.

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Rick Perry: Election 2012 Preview

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 29, 2011 – 6:36 am

This article is part of an occasional series of articles looking at the contenders for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.

Rick Perry replaced George W. Bush in the Texas Governor’s Mansion when Mr. Bush won the White House in 2000. He’s been there ever since. But recent reports say Perry is looking for a promotion, and he’s widely expected to jump into the presidential race by August. 

If Mr. Perry wins in 2012, it would mean two Texas Republican governors would serve on both sides of President Obama’s Administration. Would the idea of a Perry presidency be too much of a blast from the past for voters, or is America ready to embrace a politician from the Lone Star State once again?

This series is looking at the contenders through a prism of their communications skills. Since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980, there have been eight presidential elections. The winners of all eight general election races have had the same seven winning traits. Mr. Perry has some of them, but does he have enough?

Gov. Perry clearly reflects the anger so many Americans share regarding the U.S. economy, even going so far as to call President Obama “anti-job.” He’s not afraid to throw red meat to the base, and he is well aligned on the issues with many voters, particularly those voting in the Republican primary.

Whether or not you agree with his solution, he does present a clear vision for what a Perry Administration would look like: 

“We have a spending problem in this country. And a tax structure problem. We’re putting way too much burden on job creators with taxes, with regulation, with litigation. All three of those are the key to getting our economy back on track. You reduce the taxes as much as you can while you continue to deliver the services that are demanded by the population out there.”


And he does a good job of deflecting a potentially toxic question about Hispanic voters by transitioning back to his message:

“I think the Hispanic population in the country is no different from the Anglo population or the Asian population. They want to live in a state where they can be free from over-taxation, over-litigation. They wanna be able to have good schools for their kids and have a wide open future.”


If Mr. Perry’s understated performance in the Fox News interview doesn’t suggest he’s a particularly charismatic speaker, check out this recent high-profile speech. In it, Mr. Perry demonstrated his unquestionable charisma as a speaker who can rally a crowd. It’s a safe bet that the same conservatives who dismissed President Obama for merely giving a good speech will praise Mr. Perry’s considerable oratorical skills.

Still, some big questions remain about Mr. Perry. Chief among them is that his accent and mannerisms evoke an instant association with George W. Bush. Like Mr. Bush, Perry is not a particularly strong extemporaneous speaker (he’s better with a script).

It’s also unclear how he will perform in a long, national campaign under unending media scrutiny. If his 2009 statement suggesting that Texas might secede from the United States is any indication, he could be prone to some major gaffes that take his campaign far off message.

Although Perry reflects the nation’s anger, he’ll need to be mindful of America’s historical preference for electing the sunnier candidate with the more optimistic message. He’ll need to do optimism as well as he does anger.

A race between Governor Perry and President Obama would be an epic battle between two polar opposites. If Americans are ready for another Texas leader with a drawl, Mr. Perry could be a tough opponent to beat.


To follow this series, please like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MrMediaTraining.

Related: Scorecard: June 13 Republican Debate

Related: Jon Huntsman: Election 2012 Preview

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Seven Tips For Giving a Better Phone Interview

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 28, 2011 – 6:28 am

Most of our trainees don’t know how to use a phone.

Sure, they talk by phone with their family, friends, and business contacts every day. But the telephone habits they use during those calls are radically different from the ones they need for interviews conducted by phone, or “phoners.”

So forget everything you (think) you know, and remember these seven tips the next time you have a phoner:

  1. 1. Get Out of Your Office: Don’t sit at your desk, where you can be easily distracted by incoming emails, phone calls, and office visitors. Find an empty conference room with no distractions, and tape a “Do Not Disturb – Interview in Progress” sign on the doors.
  2. 2. Bring Your Notes: It’s okay to have notes in front of you during phone interviews. Be careful not to “read” them; use them merely as memory triggers.
  3. 3. Get a Headset: Telephone headsets are terrific gadgets for phone interviews. They allow you to use both of your hands to gesture – which adds emphasis to your voice – and free you to shuffle your note cards or scribble a quick note.
  4. 4. Stand: When our trainees stand, they literally “think faster on their feet.” They also tend to project more authority, likely because pacing helps them use their nervous energy in a more productive manner.
  5. 5. Smile: Smile when appropriate. The reporter (and audience, for radio interviews) can hear your warmth radiating through the phone.
  6. 6. Use a Landline: Speaker phones have inferior audio quality and can be a barrier to easy communication. Plus, reporters may think, “He’s too important to pick up the damn phone?” Same goes for cell phones – use them only when necessary.
  7. 7. Click, Clack, Repeat: Listen for the sound of typing on the other end – you may hear it when you say something that intrigues the reporter. That’s your cue to slow down and repeat what you’ve just said a second time, to help make sure the reporter has time to capture every word.

CASE STUDY: Toronto Mayor’s Disastrous Phone Interview

In 2010, Toronto Mayor-Elect Rob Ford agreed to an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s national radio program, As It Happens.

But when the reporter called at the scheduled time, Mr. Ford was busy coaching a youth football game. He proceeded with the interview anyway.

Unsurprisingly, he was unfocused, simultaneously yelling at children and telling the reporter about fiscal restraint. He interrupted the interview numerous times and made his points inarticulately, until finally admitting he was “being distracted.”

The interview ran unedited, creating an embarrassing – and self-inflicted – public relations disaster for the incoming mayor.

Do you find these types of tips helpful? Then don’t leave quite yet! Scroll up to the upper right of the blog and add your name to our email list for monthly tips to make you a better public speaker and media spokesperson. You’ll get the tips before they appear on this blog. Thank you!

Related: Eight Ground Rules When Working With Reporters

Related: The 21 Most Essential Media Training Links

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It’s Not The Politician’s Fault. It’s The Media’s Fault.

Written by Brad Phillips on June 27, 2011 – 6:35 am

On a recent Real Time With Bill Maher, guest Janeane Garofalo said something exasperating that I hear clients (and other pundits) say a lot. While discussing the Anthony Weiner saga, she said that it was the media’s fault that the Weiner story was such a big deal, not Mr. Weiner’s.

I’m going to call bull on that one.

That implies that the media’s excesses aren’t predictable. But they are, and public figures have ample evidence that their personal scandals will receive relentless coverage. They proceed with their reckless acts in spite of that foreknowledge, and retain the power to avoid being in the media spotlight simply by not committing them in the first place.

Are The Media Responsible For John Edwards' Problems?

After all:

  • Did Rev. Jesse Jackson (D-IL) really not know that fathering a love child would get media attention?
  • Did Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) really not know that sending messages to under-aged male pages would be a news story?
  • Did anti-gay rights Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) really not know that trying to recruit a male sex partner in an airport bathroom would get coverage?
  • Did “family values” Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) really think that cheating on his wife by visiting a prostitute wouldn’t get him in the news?
  • Did the “Sheriff of Wall Street,” Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) really think hiring hookers wouldn’t be covered in the world’s largest media market?
  • Did Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) really think that having an affair on his cancer-stricken wife and fathering a child out of wedlock during his presidential bid would not become a major tabloid headline?
  • Did Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) really think that having a child with his housekeeper would stay out of the news forever?
  • Did Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) really think he could disappear with his Argentinean lover without Chris Matthews and Anderson Cooper wondering where he went?

Yes, the media are excessive. Yes, they give these stories way too much life. But we all know well by now what they do and how they do it. And with that knowledge, politicians have the information they need to have to avoid being the subject of their next breathless, week-long, national sex scandal.

What do you think? Please add your thoughts to the comments section below.

Related: Why You Should Be Paranoid In Public

Related: May 2011 – The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

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Delta Airlines, Saudi Arabia, and “No Jews Allowed”

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 23, 2011 – 8:44 pm

Late this afternoon, the web lit up with articles about a burgeoning corporate crisis affecting Delta Airlines. From all across the ideological spectrum came stories about Delta’s alleged “No Jews Allowed” policy for flights going to Saudi Arabia.

The liberal Huffington Post, centrist USA Today, and conservative WorldNetDaily all covered the story. According to WorldNetDaily’s version:

“Delta Air Lines’ plan to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of partnering companies would require the American carrier to ban Jews and holders of Israeli passports from boarding flights from New York or Washington bound for Jeddah.”


Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: Ali Mansuri

Other stories cast doubt on whether or not all Jews would be denied entry to Saudi Arabia, saying only those people with an Israeli entry or exit stamp in their passport would be banned from the Kingdom. Yet other credible websites suggest only some visa applicants have been denied entry to Saudi Arabia based on previous travel to Israel. 

Despite an honest attempt to nail down the details, I couldn’t. Several of the news stories contradict one another – and that’s a problem for Delta, since a vacuum of information means people will believe whatever they want to about its policy. A boilerplate and totally unhelpful statement released by the airline early this evening only added to the confusion:

“…some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. For this particular concern, it’s important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train.”


Delta’s right about that. The company doesn’t have any say in the policies set by the Saudi government. But it has a huge say in the partners with whom it chooses to do business – and the company’s  statement doesn’t begin to address whether it is profiting from another nation’s discriminatory policies. 

Delta adds that it, “…does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.” But it appears to many as if Delta has made a decision to prioritize commerce over its lofty rhetoric.

This is surely going to be a public relations nightmare for Delta, and its initial statement will not suffice. Delta will have to say more, and quickly.

If these stories are wrong, Delta will have to push back on the charges forcefully. If the reporting is correct, Delta can only do one thing to do to avert a longer-lasting communications nightmare: Pull out of its agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines immediately and apologize for its lack in judgment.

There’s a third option, which would be the most dangerous for Delta: that the stories are correct, that other airlines are also flying to places that restrict certain visitors, and that doing so is an industry norm. That’s the worst case scenario for Delta, because it means they’d be unlikely to change their policies but would receive a disproportionate share of the blame for a widespread industry practice.

If that’s the case, I hope Delta’s P.R. team plans on canceling its evening and weekend plans for a while.

UPDATE: Friday, June 24, 2011, 9:45am: A terrific social media blogger specializing in the airlines named Steven Frischling adds more information to this story on his Flying With Fish blog:

“Delta Air Lines is a founding member of SkyTeam,” which is “comprised of 14 airlines, 12 airlines, from four continents…Delta Air Lines supported Saudia’s membership.”

“Saudi Arabia does issue visas to Jews. While the country previously rejected many visa applications based on a person being Jewish, this is no longer the case. Travelers who have Israeli stamps in their passport should seek a duplicate passport, and submit the duplicate passport, with no Israeli stamps, for entry into Saudi Arabia, regardless of their religion.”

“As for Israeli passports, as a general rule (with very limited exceptions), a visa granting entry into, or transiting through, Saudi Arabia will not be allowed. In fact, Israeli passports are not accepted by Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia (with limited exceptions), Pakistan, Qatar (with limited exceptions), Somalia, Sudan, Syria, The United Arab Emirates (with limited exceptions) or Yemen.”

A quick look at Mr. Frischling’s blog suggests he knows his stuff. Assuming he’s right, why didn’t Delta say any of that in their statement? Why did their statement leave gaping omissions about the rights of Jews to travel to Saudi Arabia with an obtuse statement that allowed readers to infer the exact opposite?

If Frischling is right, Delta will need to correct the record with a much more specific second statement quickly, before this story continues to spread throughout the web and do lasting damage to their brand.

UPDATE: Friday, June 24, 2011, 2:00pm: Delta has finally posted a more detailed statement on its blog. I’m posting it below in its entirety:

Today we’re still getting a lot questions from you about our association with SkyTeam and Saudi Airlines. We realize a lot of these remain unanswered, so we’ve compiled a list of the top questions we’re seeing in hopes of shedding further light on this issue.

Q: Will Saudi Air’s membership into SkyTeam affect Delta customers?

A: Simply put, no. We don’t intend to codeshare or share any reciprocal benefits (such as frequent flier benefits) with Saudi Air.

Q: Will any customers of Delta ever be discriminated against on their flight?

A: Absolutely not. As a global airline, we don’t discriminate against any of our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.

Q: What’s your association with SkyTeam?

A: We’re a member of the 14-member global airline alliance based in Amsterdam

Q: Do you operate any service to Saudi Arabia?

A: No, we don’t codeshare with any airline that serves that country

Q: Do you have any association with Saudi Air?

A: Yes, we have a standard industry agreement with them, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers. We have similar agreements with Saudi Air that American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have as well.

I’m glad Delta finally released this statement. But why didn’t they do so last night? By waiting, they allowed these rumors to spread, and many people who heard them will never hear Delta’s more complete explanation. They could have mitigated this damage by making the second statement first.

Companies are too often forced to release a more complete second statement after inflaming the public with an incomplete (or tone-deaf) first statement. Delta should know better by now.

To continue following this story (and to receive tips to make you a better public speaker and media guest), please follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/MrMediaTraining and like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MrMediaTraining.

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Jon Huntsman: Election 2012 Preview

Written by Brad Phillips on June 23, 2011 – 6:36 am

This article is part of an occasional series of articles looking at the contenders for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination on Tuesday. Interestingly, he served as President Obama’s ambassador to China – so if he wins the nomination, he will run against his former boss, for whom he served two years without complaint. 

Since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980, there have been eight presidential elections. The winners of all eight general election races have had the same seven winning traits. Does Mr. Huntsman have them? 

Mostly. He exudes an almost Reaganesque optimism, appears comfortable in his own skin, and has an undeniable (if low-key) charisma. That pundits bashed his cliché-ridden announcement misses the point: it was his first time introducing himself to the American people, and he left a positive impression.

Mr. Huntsman does a nice job of wrapping a tough message in optimistic language, a trait voters have regularly rewarded:

“We are passing down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive, and less confident than the one we got. This, ladies and gentleman, is totally unacceptable, and it is totally un-American. And it need not, must not, will not be our permanent condition. We will not be the first American generation that lets down the next generation.”


And he does a good job of positioning himself as a “civil” candidate:

“For the sake of the younger generation, it concerns me that civility, humanity, and respect are sometimes lost in our interactions as Americans. Our political debates today are corrosive.”


But he does have at least one major communications challenge. Although he’s amiable, Huntsman is not tapping into the anger many Americans feel – including so many of the conservatives who will decide their party’s nominee.

Huntsman has an odd habit of delivering a tough line containing bad news, looking up, and smiling – which appears totally incongruous with his verbal message and casts into doubt whether he viscerally feels the words he’s saying. Mr. Huntsman would benefit from showing more conviction, and perhaps even showing an occasional flash of anger to signal that he “gets it” and is tough enough to do something about America’s challenges.

It won’t be easy for Mr. Huntsman to win the nomination – but if he did, he would present a tough challenge to President Obama. Despite his flaws, Mr. Huntsman is a gifted communicator, and has many of the traits winning presidential candidates need.


To follow this series, please like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MrMediaTraining.

Related: Scorecard: June 13 Republican Debate

Related: 2012 Election Preview (Our Series From December 2010)

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Three Recent Must-See Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips on June 22, 2011 – 6:35 am

Readers regularly send in clips of media disasters. (Thank you!)

Some of them aren’t big enough to become stand-alone stories – but collectively, they make for one heck of a fun blog post. So here are three lesser-noticed recent must-see media disasters.

1. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Yells At Constituent

Late last week, Gov. Christie appeared on a local PBS station. A constituent wanted to know:

“You don’t send your children to public schools – you send them to private schools. So I was wondering why you think it’s fair to be cutting school funding to public schools.”


Sounds like a fair question. But Mr. Christie didn’t agree:

First, the woman didn’t ask where Christie’s children go to school. The heart of her question was about conflict of interest, and it was a predictable question.

By saying “none of your business” after pointedly addressing her by name, he made his angry response the story – which is a shame, since his third point would have served as a perfect answer (”I, as Governor, am responsible for every child in this state.”).

2. Stop. Just Stop.

When the Australian Broadcasting Corporation sent a reporter to a town called Woodside to ask residents how they felt about a local detention center, they got an unexpected bit of aggressive message control.

Fast forward to 3:08, where the unusual fireworks begin. 

The media spokesperson saying “stop” accomplished the opposite of what she intended, bringing more attention to the issue by reacting so dramatically. If you give reporters dramatic film, they’re going to use it. And as a result, readers across the world will now see her poor attempt at message control.

(Thanks to reader @Hootville for sending this clip – a good person to follow!)

3. Henry Kissinger Threatens to End an Interview

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Secretary of State threatened to end an interview – with almost no provocation:

“’What I am reflecting about now is not that I don’t think I know an answer to your question,’" says a pensive Henry Kissinger, sitting in his spacious Park Avenue corner office adorned with signed photos of former presidents and foreign leaders. ‘It’s that I don’t know whether I choose to talk about it at this moment and in this forum. . . . And I don’t mind dropping the interview and I don’t mind you saying that I refused to go any further and pay the price for it.’

“What sort of hard-hitting question should elicit such evasiveness from the former secretary of state?… ‘What are the historic sources of Chinese vulnerability, and what are the current ones?’"

Like the other two spokespersons, his strange reaction only increases the audience’s suspicion about what triggered his disproportionate reaction.

As I’ve said on this blog many times, hostile responses usually end up shining a light on the areas you least want attention focused on – so take a breath and deny the reporter the easy footage by delivering a calm, uneventful reply.

Did you know that Michael Jackson sang about Tweeting 40 years ago? If you like tweets as much as he did, please follow our feed at @MrMediaTraining or www.Twitter.com/MrMediaTraining

Related: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters of May 2011

Related: The Ten Worst Video Media Disasters of 2010

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Five Ways Media Training Can Improve Your Marriage

Written by Brad Phillips on June 21, 2011 – 6:34 am

Can media training help your marriage?

Many of our trainees think so. They regularly quip that they should try the media training techniques we teach on their spouses back home.

To be clear, many media training techniques will not work well in your personal life. My wife wouldn’t react kindly, for example, if I told her that I’m not the appropriate spokesperson for her questions, but would be happy to refer her to someone else who could help. I suspect your spouse wouldn’t react positively to that either.

Still, there are at least five lessons from media training that can help improve your relationships. So for the first (and possibly last) time today, I’m going to nudge professionally trained counselors out of the way and delve into the realm of marriage therapy.

1. Pause Before Answering

For interviews that aren’t live, we teach trainees to pause for several seconds before answering questions. Pauses help spokespersons avoid saying the first thing that pops into their minds, and usually lead to sharper, more focused answers.

Pausing also helps slow the pace of heated interviews, allowing spokespersons re-gain control of their message and maintain a calm but firm tone. Anyone who’s ever argued with their spouse knows the value of taking a breath and slowing the pace.

2. Listen For The Underlying Issue

When reporters ask questions filled with accusatory language, good spokespersons know to listen for the underlying issue. For example, if a reporter asks why your company just experienced its third straight quarter of declining sales, the underlying question is probably, “Is your company in trouble?”

As Oprah Winfrey once said, fights about which spouse left the toilet seat up are rarely about the toilet seat itself. It’s usually about some underlying issue, probably one spouse feeling that they’re not being respected or listened to. Next time you argue with your loved one, try to listen for the subtext.

3. Don’t Go Off-Message

Ever notice what happens when you begin arguing? You suddenly introduce  less important points into the argument – and inevitably, your fight becomes about those secondary and tertiary points instead of the main subject that should command your full attention.

Once you go down the rabbit hole of an “everything but the kitchen sink” argument, it’s tough to crawl your way back out. Good media guests know not to get sidetracked by secondary points. If you do, those less important points may become your “headline” – and the thing your spouse most remembers about the argument.  

4. Watch Your Tone

Think about the last time you saw a media guest react angrily to a reporter’s question. What did you think of the spokesperson? Most people think: “What a jerk!”

In my experience, it’s not much different in personal relationships. If Mrs. Media Training (who has a ton of patience) complains to me about something I’ve done, I have two choices. One is to listen to her, acknowledge her concerns, and pledge to try harder. The other is to react defensively, which almost always leads to a more protracted disagreement than necessary. 

5. Apologize The Right Way

In the first few days of a corporate crisis, companies too often react by denying any wrongdoing. Then, after enduring days of terrible coverage, they quickly change strategies and issue a more remorseful statement. But by that point, they’ve suffered a lot of unnecessary, self-inflicted wounds. If you make a mistake, say so quickly. It usually shortens the severity of the crisis and allows you to move on.

Now, let’s just hope I can remember my own advice the next time I screw up….

I can’t promise you any more relationship advice – but I can promise you more tips to help make you a better media spokesperson and public speaker. Sign up for our monthly newsletter on the upper right hand corner of the blog!  


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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

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    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

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