By Nick Michael
Teaching clients how to perform well in press interviews is a critical element of public relations. As such, every practitioner in our field should aim to master the art of media training.
At Offleash, our clients depend on our expertise to guide them through the ever-evolving media landscape. Setting them up for success is our top priority, so we take the training aspect of our work very seriously.
Here are four secrets to success that I’ve learned from working with high-level executives that you won’t find in a run-of-the-mill media training presentation.
One might think there’s no such thing as too much practice when it comes to media interviews, but I’ve seen firsthand how excessive rehearsal can hurt a spokesperson’s performance. If they get overly comfortable with specific questions, or even a distinct order of questions, they may get thrown off when a reporter deviates from their established expectations. An interview can go down many different paths, so in most cases it’s best to provide a general direction, rather than a very strict, regimented gameplan.
Additionally, if a spokesperson is overprepared, they may come off as less personable, or even robotic. Which leads me to my next piece of advice…
A good first impression can be the catalyst for longstanding, fruitful relationships. While every spokesperson you train will have a unique personality, it is critical to push them to approach briefings with the goal of connecting with the reporter beyond the subject matter they’re set to speak to. Empower your clients to be the best version of themselves when facing the media and to display traits like empathy, attentiveness, and sincerity. Poor attributes like apathy and indifference can quickly drive a discussion into the ground. Establishing rapport with journalists through this approach can lead to inbound inquiries and increased coverage, which is what we’re after.
In short; nobody likes a talking head!
Speaking with reporters can be stressful. Depending on the context of the interview, and endless other variables, your spokesperson may be nervous heading into a briefing. It’s our job as PR professionals to help alleviate these feelings. Sometimes the stakes are high, and there may be no avoiding the anxiety. However, coaching your client to be confident and relaxed can make the difference between a lively conversation and one filled with trepidation. Positive encouragement can go a long way. Get them feeling optimistic about the opportunity that awaits them, rather than ruminating on the possibilities for a negative outcome.
There is no such thing as a perfect briefing. And even when an interview is a homerun, there’s still always room for improvement. It’s the responsibility of PR experts to share actionable advice with spokespeople to ensure that they’re constantly evolving and maturing as a voice for their organization. Pay very close attention to the minutiae; even the smallest details can equip the client with potential for improved performance.
The media landscape has changed drastically in the last few years. It’s more important than ever to give your executives and other spokespeople the tools they need to stand out and deliver solid interviews in today’s competitive environment. An organization’s entire reputation and image can sometimes hinge on one conversation, so it’s crucial that both spokespeople and their PR team have all bases covered.