Preparing for the Spotlight

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Have you ever given a media interview in which you rambled on, fumbled with your words or completely missed an opportunity to make a point? In today’s competitive business world, everyone knows how important positive and earned media can be. More than just issuing a press release, at times, you may be asked to give a statement or answer spontaneous questions from a reporter about your brand, your company or your expertise. One wrong answer could ruin a reputation or tarnish a brand. It is important to polish your public speaking and media interview skills. 

In the article “Media Interview Blunders and How to Avoid Them” (May 2013 issue of the International SPA Association’s Pulse magazine), Peter Kerr says “people do things wrong all the time and the worst mistakes probably never even make it on the air.” Kerr, who once led the Pentagon’s media training team and now works as a communications professor at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, advises that, if a mistake was made during an interview, it is important to “minimize the time spent on the mistake.”

 

To avoid making a mistake during an interview, here are five tips to remember as you prepare for the media spotlight.

1.     Realize that communicating with the media is a unique type of communication, and there is a unique finesse in delivering your key messages during a media interview. You should, therefore, get some media training from an expert, attend a webinar or read a book about how to give interviews to the media.

2.     Make your point, then give some details, then restate your point, in order to be heard. This technique is called the "message sandwich." Never bury your message in the middle of a long dialogue. If the interview is edited, you must repeat your main messages often so the journalist can't edit them out.  

3.     Most people don’t realize that on TV, a sound bite averages eight seconds. Every message must balance accuracy, brevity and clarity.

4.     After you think you have perfected your message, try to look at it through the lens of each of your target audiences. Will it resonate with all of the important audiences? Will it offend any of them? You also must practice your messages out loud so they become second nature.

5.     Be yourself. You are your own best self, so don’t act like someone else. Just be sincere, admit to faults, stay positive, and you'll win the audience to your side.Have you ever given a media interview in which you rambled on, fumbled with your words or completely missed an opportunity to make a point? In today’s competitive business world, everyone knows how important positive and earned media can be. More than just issuing a press release, at times, you may be asked to give a statement or answer spontaneous questions from a reporter about your brand, your company or your expertise. One wrong answer could ruin a reputation or tarnish a brand. It is important to polish your public speaking and media interview skills. 

 

 

Allie Hembree is the public relations manager at the International SPA Association (ISPA), working with global media outlets as she promotes the visions and messages of the spa industry. Hembree has a background in broadcast journalism and public relations and received her Master’s of Business Administration from Midway College in Midway, Kentucky.