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A Media Training Mistake I’ve Been Making For Years

One of our firm’s calling cards is that we do a tremendous amount of research before any media training session. At the end of many training sessions, our clients note with appreciation our extensive preparation.

But a comment from a recent client gave me pause and made me wonder if all of that preparation had a downside.

After reflecting on his feedback, we’ve made a meaningful adjustment to our training approach.

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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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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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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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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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