Category: Media Training Tips

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How To Win When You’re Ranked Dead Last

I often get emails from readers saying something like this: “I know you post a lot of media disasters. Do you have a good example of a spokesperson doing things right?”

We’ve posted many good interviews through the years—but since there’s such interest in the topic, I wanted to post one of my favorites, a May 2013 interview with Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza.

At the time, his airline had been ranked last in customer satisfaction by Consumer Reports. Few executives want to go on television to defend such a dismal ranking—but Baldanza appeared energized by the challenge.

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20 Ways For Lawyers To Say “No Comment”

A reader recently sent me a document called “101 Ways To Not Comment Without Using The Words ‘No Comment.’”

Here are a few examples: “Without commenting on any specific case, here’s the general rule.” “It would compromise our efforts if I publicly discussed the matter with you at this point.” “I cannot give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to that question right now. But if you have some time, I can read to you the 85-page opinion from the court.”

In this post, you’ll see 20 of the best one-liners from that document, along with my advice about how and when to use them.

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10 Media Ground Rules For Working With Reporters

One media training client told me that he refuses to speak with reporters unless they allow him to approve the story before it runs.

Another told me that her boss surreptitiously records media interviews in case the reporter “screws” him.

Such stories are more common than you might think. And while there’s a place for insisting upon certain interviewing ground rules, it’s also important to make sure your requests are truly in your best interest—and that they don’t violate newsroom protocols. In this post, you’ll learn 10 of the most important ground rules for working with reporters.

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A Troubling Trend That Could Impact Every Media Spokesperson

Over the past couple of years, several popular websites have incentivized their writers with a compensation plan that sounds reasonable: If your stories generate more clicks, we’ll pay you more.

But think about the implications of that. If a writer / aggregator / reporter / blogger (let’s shorten that to the acronym “WARB”) has a direct incentive to generate more clicks, do you think they’re going to go with a straightforward headline or a more sensational one? Do you think they’ll exploit inadvertent “mini gaffes” more than they otherwise might?

It’s yet another trend that makes a spokesperson’s job that much harder.

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When You Score A Touchdown, Get Off The Field

You’ve just delivered the perfect media response. Your answer is on message and perfectly quotable. It will accomplish everything you had hoped. Then…you say more.

It pains me to see an answer that was brilliant in its first 15 seconds become diluted when it lasts for another minute. An extended answer also risks introducing secondary points that offer reporters the ability to quote something relatively unimportant.

When I see our trainees deliver a great answer—and then keep going—I tell them this: “When you score a touchdown, get off the field!”

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What To Say When Reporters Enter A “No-Go Zone”

The words “no comment” are problematic during a media interview. Too often, that curt phrase sends a “guilty” message to the audience—even if your refusal to comment has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

I recently saw a perfect example of that during a training with an economist whose financial institution has been the subject of regulatory scrutiny. When I asked her about the latest on the investigation, she said, “No comment.”

We then discussed a far better approach.

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How To Prepare Questions For Your Own Media Interview

A reader recently wrote in and asked: “I am slotted to go on a local television show, and the interviewer asked me to provide a list of questions for her to ask me. Any suggestions for questions, or tips?”

It’s common for time-pressed television or radio hosts to ask guests for a list of questions in advance. That’s not a guarantee that they’ll stick to your questions, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to shape the interview—and its outcome.

Here are five types of questions you might prepare.

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Middle-Aged Media Dog Learns New Media Spokesperson Trick

“Treat every television news camera as if it’s rolling.” That media training mantra goes back to the dawn of the television era of electronic news gathering.

Is the camera on a tripod? Act as though it’s rolling. Is the camera slung over a journalists shoulder? Act as though it’s rolling.

But when it comes to recorded on-camera interviews, there has always been that quiet internal assurance on the part of even the most-experienced spokespersons that you could start over. Not so fast.

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