Interacting with the media can feel like a daunting task. You want to make a good impression, answer questions properly and share your key messages. With the following three media training tips, you can go into your next interaction with a reporter more confidently and be sure to get it all right from the start.
Talk About Yourself the Right Way
During an interview, there is a good chance that you will be asked to speak a bit about yourself and what you do. That seems quite straightforward but unfortunately many people approach this question the wrong way and end up giving a weak reply. When asked what you do, you can grab your audience’s attention and make a strong impression on them. Don’t lose this opportunity by giving a boring response.
It might seem logical to immediately start talking about what exactly you do. After all, that’s what you were asked. But how about starting with WHY you do it? Think about what problem you and your company are solving. Who does that benefit and how? Why does that make a difference? This will catch your listeners’ attention as it will give them something concrete to imagine and even identify with. Once you’ve laid this groundwork, it’s time say what you do to achieve your goals.
Draw in Your Target Audience
An interview is a great way to share the values you and your company stand for. It gives you the chance to communicate with your target audience in a very personal way, so seize the opportunity. The best way to really captivate them and make sure they stick around to listen to you is to use the interview to speak directly to them. Sure, it’s the reporters who are asking you questions but you are not having a personal conversation with them. They are asking you in the place of everyone else who is interested in you and you are actually addressing your audience in the replies you are giving.
This makes it important for you to direct your communication not at the media representatives right in front of you, but at the people you want to reach. Stay focused on sharing your company’s messages and values throughout your interaction with the media but do it in a way that appeals to your target audience and takes into consideration their knowledge of the subject. They best way to do that is to visualize them and answer the questions as if you were speaking to them face-to-face.
Avoid Speaking “Off-the-Record”
In some situations, going off-the-record might seems like a good idea, especially when you want to give more context or background information about a controversial situation or a topic. This can be a bad idea though, for several reasons.
Off-the-record is very loosely defined and different reporters understand this term in many different ways. Just try looking it up online. For every page you open, you will find a slightly different definition of what it means. Even if you and the person interviewing you come to a mutual understanding of what off-the-record is in your situation, you should be careful who you trust. There is no legal obligation for reporters to uphold the agreement of keeping information to themselves and sometimes, even if they want to keep quiet, their boss will force them to disclose their source or they might be legally required to reveal you. And even if they don’t give your name, the way they describe you (e.g. by mentioning the company you work for, your position, etc.) might make it possible for others to identify you.
The safest bet is to always stay on-the-record and only share information you want attributed to you and your company. Trying to make yourself interesting by offering off-the-record information could end up doing you more harm than good and backfire sooner or later.
Of Course, There is More
These three tips are some important basics when interacting with media representatives but they are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more things to know and watch out for though and it is a good idea to get professional media training to make sure you’ve covered all the ground.
If you feel like you could do with some expert training, get in touch with us. Our team of seasoned media pros will be glad to boost your skills and confidence in dealing with the media and make your next public appearance a great success.