Even the most seasoned, media-savvy executive can be bushwhacked during an interview with a reporter. It demonstrates how an interviewer can skewer a well-meaning professional by twisting what he or she says, jumping to false conclusions and taking the offensive in questioning. Stephen Colbert is a master of these techniques as well.
We’ve been training people how to get their message across for about 20 years, and media training is a prime specialty here at PRx. We work with actual journalists who have been prepped about the client’s business and its current issues so that during a mock interview the experience is as real as possible. Lights, a prominent microphone and a professional video camera with a monitor all lend a sense of reality to the process, especially if the interviewer is a face you see on TV every night.
But we don’t jump into the interview without a thorough prep session that gives the client practice with key messages and examples of answers that bridge back to the message. Politicians on the Sunday talk shows are masters of bridging back to their key messages, regardless of the question being asked.
As spokesperson for Second Harvest Food Bank for seven years, I quickly learned by trial and error how to craft a sound byte that was guaranteed to be aired on the nightly news. And my partner in our media trainings is veteran television and radio political analyst Larry Gerston, and he is famous for turning a provocative phrase.
During one session with mid-level managers of a large energy company, a question about EPA regulations led to the astounding answer that said the EPA-certification was their license to pollute. Of course the manager didn’t mean to say it in that way, that small amounts of gassy wastes are allowed by law, but when he saw his answer on tape, you knew that he will never phrase his answer that way again.
So if you’re going to be interviewed by the media, it helps to learn how to say what you mean to say and then stop talking before your tongue gets you and your company in trouble. Call us to learn more about media training. At PRx, the doctor is always in with the right prescription for your communications needs.