Category: Media Training Tips


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.


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!”


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.

Answers questions on blackboard

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.


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.


What To Say When You Disagree With Your Company Policy

I recently worked with two clients facing a similar challenge.

One was a spokesperson for a local politician with whom he disagreed on a particular high-profile decision. The other was a representative for a cultural organization whose leader made a decision that he strongly opposed.

In both cases, the clients struggled when trying to answer the often-difficult “What is your personal opinion?” question. Here’s what they ended up saying.


Advanced Media Training Tip: The “As You Know” Construct

Reporters occasionally ask questions that they know you can’t answer for legitimate reasons.

Three little words—“as you know”—can help shift responsibility for a non-answer from the spokesperson back to the reporter. That response sends a message to the audience: this reporter is asking questions that she knows the spokesperson is not allowed to answer.

As you (probably) know, this technique can be risky. This post will help you determine how and when to use it.


Five Ways To Rock A Television Cooking Demo

Remember that old game of coordination in which you had to try to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time?

Television cooking demos can often feel similar—but with the addition of hot flames, sharp knives, and unpredictable hosts.

We’ve worked with dozens of chefs through the years and have observed that on-air cooking demos, which often last only two or three minutes, deserve a place on any list of challenging media formats. In this post, you’ll find five tips to help your next appearance run smoothly.

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