My Comments About Rand Paul In The New York Times

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on April 10, 2015 – 5:30 pm

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul has been making headlines recently for his testy media interviews, in which he has scolded, dismissed, and even “shushed” an anchor.

I wrote about one such exchange in February, and he had yet another similar incident on Wednesday with Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of The Today Show.

I spoke to Alan Rappeport of The New York Times this afternoon about Paul’s media strategy, which I believe is counterproductive. Here’s an excerpt of his story:

“As Mr. Paul is likely to do many more interviews as he seeks the Republican nomination, First Draft checked in with a media coach to see how the Kentucky senator can improve.

‘The advice I would give to him is to always remember the interview is not with the reporter,’ said Brad Phillips, president of Phillips Media Relations. ‘The reporter is the conduit to the audience you want to reach out to.’

Mr. Phillips said candidates and politicians can be successful with an aggressive approach toward the media until it begins to erode their likability. Taking a ‘happy warrior’ approach, smiling more and giving off a warmer vibe, Mr. Phillips said, would behoove Mr. Paul as voters start to pay more attention.

‘If somebody who gives the perception as being peevish were to get the nomination, the historical trend makes clear that person would be running at a disadvantage,’ he said.”

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Baby Boy Phillips Has Arrived!

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on March 20, 2013 – 12:13 am

Dear Friends and Readers:

I’m thrilled to announce the arrival of my first child!

Baby Boy Phillips was born on Tuesday evening, measuring 6 lbs., 6 oz. Mom and baby are doing well and resting comfortably.

I’m going to take the next couple of weeks off to get better acquainted with our little guy, learn how to change diapers, and try to sneak in an hour or two of sleep along the way.

In my absence, I’ve arranged for some terrific guest posts written by some of my favorite bloggers. Over the next two weeks (starting this Friday), you’ll find guest posts from:

Melissa Agnes, a crisis communications pro who runs the consultancy

Chris Syme, a crisis communications expert who runs

David Nagle and Amanda Jones of the public relations firm Vox Optima

In addition, you’ll find a new original post from my firm’s Washington, D.C. Vice President, Christina Mozaffari. I’ll also post a couple of excerpts from my book, The Media Training Bible.

I look forward to seeing you back on the blog “live” in early April. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the content we’ve prepared for you while I’m gone!


Brad Phillips

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Five Things I Wish I Had Done Better In This Interview

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on January 11, 2013 – 6:02 am

Over the past three years, I’ve critiqued hundreds of media interviews. When I see a spokespersons on television, I can’t help but to identify their strengths and weaknesses as communicators.

So when I watched back the video of an interview I did with Bob Andelman (known as “Mr. Media”) earlier this week, I couldn’t help noticing all of the flaws in my own performance. No, this interview wasn’t a bomb, and I doubt many people would look at it and say I did badly. But there’s no denying that it could have been better.

So today, I’m going to turn my pen onto myself. (After all, if I’m going to criticize others, I should be willing to be self-critical, as well!)

Here are five things I wish I had done better in this interview.

1. I Forgot My “Tight” Answer: A few days ago, I wrote a post featuring ten questions every author should be ready to answer. So when Bob asked me, “Why did you write this book?” I should have had a tight answer ready to go. The thing is, I did. But when he asked the question, I went blank. The good news is that you’d probably never know that I went blank since I answered the question without hesitating. But the answer I wanted to give temporarily eluded my grasp. You’ll hear the “right” answer at the very end of that reply.

2. I Gave a Clumsy NRA Answer: When discussing a topic that elicits such strong emotion as the National Rifle Association, you have to be particularly careful in your word choice. At one point, I referred to the gun show loophole as a “small thing.” That isn’t a word choice I’m comfortable with. I could have avoided that altogether by cutting off my answer a minute sooner. In general, many of my answers were too long. And as I tell others, the more you say, the more you stray.

3. I Nodded Too Much: At times, I looked like a Bobblehead Doll. It’s okay to nod along while listening to a question (assuming you agree with the premise), but a little goes a long way.

4. I Lapsed Into the “Energetic Monotone”: I had a lot of energy in the interview—but sometimes, energy without variety can lead to what I call the “energetic monotone.” It’s a good idea to vary your energy throughout an interview and occasionally break your vocal pattern when making a key point (doing so helps regain the audience’s attention). I should have slowed down and gotten quieter at a few moments when making an important point.

5. I Forgot One TINY Detail: I’ve gotten to know Bob through the years, and we occasionally trade emails. In a recent email, I mentioned to him that my wife and I are expecting our first child in March. I’ve never stated that publicly before, and hoped to have it remain private. But I failed to tell Bob that, so he brought it up in the interview (as he had every right to do). As I’ve written before, there’s no such thing as an “official interview” – everything you say before and after an “official” interview is reportable. 


Yes, I write a media training blog and also recently published a media training book – so it might seem odd that I made some of these mistakes. But one of the points I make in The Media Training Bible is just how important it is to review your own media appearances and continue to learn from them. I may never reach media “perfection.” But I sure as hell am going to keep striving for it.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What else could I have done better in this interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

(Note: Despite the similarity of our names, “Mr. Media” Bob Andelman is not related to the Mr. Media Training Blog. But he does great work, so you should check him out!)

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My Political Punditry In 2011: How Did I Do?

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on December 21, 2011 – 6:12 am

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I engage in a fair bit of political punditry.

There’s nothing even remotely unique about being a pundit – but there is something unique about a pundit who actually grades himself on his successes and failures.

Since I regularly grade public figures and try to hold others accountable, I felt it was only fair to turn the pen on myself and see how I did. So I spent an evening going through all of the political posts I wrote during 2011.

On the whole, I got it right more than I got it wrong. But it was far from a perfect year, and this article will summarize my hits and misses.

RIGHT: Mitt Romney’s Mandate (March 8, 2011): Back in March, I wrote that Mitt Romney should disown his Massachusetts health care plan instead of continuing to defend it. Gov. Romney has continued to defend his plan – and, like when Hillary Clinton continued to defend the Iraq war in 2007, his party’s base has not forgiven his apostasy. Although he might end up getting the nomination, he’s lucky – had Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, John Thune, Mitch Daniels, or Haley Barbour gotten in the race, he might have been in real trouble.

WRONG: Chris Christie’s Storm (January 3, 2011): As a major snow storm blanketed his state, paralyzing roadways and knocking out electrical lines, I wrote that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would pay a political price for vacationing in Disney World instead of staying home. His approval ratings actually went up. Didn’t see that one coming.

RIGHT: Rick Perry’s Gaffes (June 29, 2011): Well before the infamous debate gaffes that likely doomed his campaign, I accurately predicted that Rick Perry would get into trouble with words. I wrote, “Perry is not a particularly strong extemporaneous speaker…he could be prone to some major gaffes that take his campaign far off message.”

RIGHT: Donald Trump Takes The Lead (April 18, 2011): When circus sideshow Donald Trump was polling as the top choice in the Republican field, I reminded readers that his “first-place showing at this point means little” and compared him to Howard Dean, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchanan – all of whom once briefly flirted with the lead.

I have to admit I missed the Ron Paul surge. Many readers didn't make the same mistake.

WRONG: Ron Paul’s Support (September 7, 2011): Throughout the campaign, I’ve consistently missed the mark on the breadth of Rep. Ron Paul’s support. In fairness, he had a similarly enthusiastic base in 2008 that yielded him few delegates. But this year seems different, and he’s a legitimate threat to finish near the top in Iowa next month.

RIGHT: Anthony Weiner’s Crisis Response (June 1, 2011): In the earliest hours of the Anthony Weiner scandal, long before we knew the lurid details, I wrote: “Mr. Weiner has been married for less than a year…I can’t help but thinking that his decisions are being influenced, at least in part, by those concerns.”

WRONG: Tim Pawlenty’s Mild Debate Response (June 13, 2011): I praised GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty for refusing to go after Mitt Romney on “Obamneycare.” Turns out most pundits cited that moment as the reason he had to drop out of the race. As Rick Perry might say, “Oops.”

RIGHT: Herman Cain’s Bubble Will Burst (October 18, 2011): When Herman Cain was leading the polls (and before his alleged sexual misconduct came to light), I wrote: “Based on his performance thus far, it’s hard to see how he uses his recent momentum to win the White House.” In hindsight, that one seems rather obvious.

Newt Gingrich represents both my greatest failure and success as a pundit this year. Photo: Gage Skidmore

MY BIGGEST MISTAKE: Newt Gingrich’s Campaign Suicide (May 31, 2011): After Speaker Gingrich blasted fellow Republican Paul Ryan’s “right-wing social engineering” during the first week of his campaign in May, I wrote that “Gingrich is still in the race. But my odds of winning the Republican nomination are probably better.” I should have known better than to declare a campaign over, and hope to avoid repeating that mistake in the future. My biggest mistake of the year.

MY BIGGEST SUCCESS: Newt Gingrich’s Impending Surge (September 12, 2011): When Newt Gingrich was polling just five percent in mid-September, I wrote: “If Mr. Perry falters, someone else is likely to emerge to threaten Mr. Romney for the nomination – and if Mr. Gingrich continues to perform this well, he could emerge as that person.” My biggest success of the year.

If you like my blog, please stay in touch on Facebook at and on Twitter at Thanks for reading!

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Interview on D.C.’s WTOP Radio About Murdoch Scandal

Written by Brad Phillips on July 7, 2011 – 8:57 pm

I joined Hillary Howard and Shawn Anderson on Washington D.C.’s top-rated WTOP this afternoon to discuss the scandal that led Rupert Murdoch to abruptly close his best-selling tabloid newspaper, News of the World

If you missed the interview, you can listen to the three minute clip here:

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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.

    Brad Phillips

    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.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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