My top media training tip for 2015

Posted January 14, 2015

It’s a simple tip but one not many people employ when preparing for media interviews. You must practice your interview on video until you are satisfied.

That doesn’t mean a quick run-through with someone firing a few questions at you. It means you should repeat the mock interview until you have passed two tests. The first is that you look confident and relaxed. That’s obviously more for television.

But the next test is critical for all media formats, particularly if it’s a high stakes interview. You must make sure you don’t give the reporter a quote that could be taken out of context to make you look foolish. I’ve had numerous media training clients who have fallen into this trap.

The fact is that a reporter is never going to quote everything you say. Little snippets will be taken out. This means everything you say has to be able to stand on its own. For example, a reporter could ask a Government Minister who had just cut the unemployment benefit: “What’s your response to claims that you don’t care about unemployed people.”

In any normal situation, the Minister could reply: “I can understand why people think I’m an uncaring Minister, but while we are cutting the benefit, we are also doubling accommodation allowances and dropping GST.”

That sounds reasonable, but the reporter may only use: “I can understand why people think I’m an uncaring Minister,” then fill the rest of the story with complaints from those affected.

In a nutshell, if you don’t want it quoted, don’t say it. Mock interviews are the best way to pick up mistakes like this and many others. This can be done with anything from a video camera to a smart phone.They also reduce s nerves when the real thing begins. It’s no different from sitting your driver’s licence without practicing how to drive. How nervous would you be then?

If you are unsure how to appear comfortable, or to avoid being taken out of context, a media training session would be valuable. It’s too late once the reporter is knocking on the door.

For more on my media training or crisis communication planning workshops, contact [email protected] or 029 200 8555.

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