How to face the news media more confidently

People often make mistakes when they're faced with a media interview. I've been on both sides of the fence, as a journalist and a media trainer, and here are my top ten mistakes. 1. Not believing that it's your interview as well. Thinking that it's purely the journalist's interview and worrying, therefore, about what you might get asked.

Remember the Henry Kissinger line as he strode into media conferences - "anyone here got any questions to go with my answers?" 2. Giving in too easily to the media instead of standing up for yourself. I've seen CEOs who wouldn't take any rubbish from people at work submit like a pussycat to the news media - and it's not a pretty sight. 3.

Agreeing to instant interviews instead of making sure you allow enough time for proper preparation. If you have to lie to the media do so. They could be lying to you to pressure you for an instant interview (by telling you some story about deadline pressures)so use a similar tactic. Tell them you're in a meeting (even if you're not) and that you'll call them back in 20 minutes. That much preparation time might be short but it's a lot better than no preparation at all. 4.

Believing every word in the journalist's questions. Quite often, journos will invent things to try you out - a kind of fishing expedition to see what they can catch. After all, you're the person with all the facts and that's why the journalists are after you so don't let them fluster you with bluff or other fishing techniques. 5. Being far too polite if you're asked impertinent or ill-mannered questions.

You should quickly think you're in a social situation like a dinner party and think how you would answer the question there as that's usually a better answer. That usually makes them stand up for themselves a little more - see point 2 again. 6.

Forgetting your bridging phrases and sitting there with an open mouth and blank mind. There's any number of these phrases. I heard a new one last night on TV news that I thought was worth repeating - "look, I'm not here today to talk much about that, but I can tell you that.

" 7. Failing to have key messages and delivering them. You need to develop three or four key messages and have evidence to back them up. Next, use them in the interview.

If you don't, why bother talking to the journalist at all? With practice, you should stick to your messages and repeat them, with variations in the words used so it doesn't sound like you're repeating yourself. 8. Not injecting some "entertainment value" into the interview. Too many people believe the news media are there purely for information gathering but today's news media, more than ever before, want that information delivered in an entertaining fashion. That could involve pithy catch-phrases, analogies, humour or scorn - any number of techniques. Perhaps just letting your own personality show is a good start.

9. Not being passionate about your messages. How can you expect to convince the journalist and his/her public about your sincerity and beliefs if you're not being passionate about them? Nothing kills a media interview more than a lacklustre performance by the interviewee. 10.

And, finally - not understanding the limitations of radio and TV compared with print. Print will take a lot more detail (especially local newspapers) than its electronic counterparts. But, if you can appear on TV regularly, even with short interview grabs, you can build up a far more powerful image and perception in the public mind.

Graham Kelly media trains for a living and has done for 21 years. Details of his ebook, Managing the Media (3rd Edition) are available here


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