It finally has happened. The media outreach you’ve been working so hard on has finally paid off. The interview with a top notch reporter is just minutes away. What do you do? Or do you have an announcement coming up but not sure what is the best way to get your message across to reporters?
Reporters can ask some tough questions and if not answered properly, it can be devastating to your exciting announcement. Most corporate executives don’t realize that they actually have control of the conversation with a reporter. In any conversation, including a crisis situation, there are techniques to keep the conversation on message, to get your story out there and help increase or keep company reputation, awareness and sales. You want to make sure that you take every advantage to share your story and stay on message.
So what do you do?
- Think about every possible question and how to answer it.
- Practice out loud
Then share your story. Stay on message but speak from the heart. If your messages aren’t from your heart, the interview will be shallow, boring and not very compelling. If that’s hard to do, then you don’t believe in your message or story and you should change it or designate another spokesperson.
We have seen novice spokespeople turn into soundbite machines after training and practice. In our media training, you’ll learn techniques that will help you stay on message, answer tough questions and learn the reporters’ side. Our trainer is with a 59-Emmy award and 8 National Edward R. Murrow award winning TV reporter. You’ll get on-camera practice and critiques and learn what it is that reporters are looking for when they call you for a story. During a media training session, trainers will generally instruct companies on the best ways to interact with the media, with a focus on garnering positive press coverage. Depending on the size and structure of your company, you may have a single spokesperson or you may have many.
One of the biggest misunderstandings is that when holding the spokesperson role, they think that they’re on a sales call when meeting a reporter. So they toss out hype and overstatements or try to “close on the objection.” Then they become frustrated by the “poor” coverage, if any, that they receive…
The key is simple: “INFORM,” don’t try to sell.
Here are a few quotes from a recent training:
“John was informative and entertaining. I feel more prepared to effectively, no, awesomely, address the media.”
“My biggest takeaway was to talk in sound bites and don’t be drawn into a bad conversation. Control the interview and make sure to keep it on your terms.”