Face the Media: The Complete Guide to Getting Publicity and Handling Media Opportunities

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There are many types of media monitoring solutions available, and broadly these fall into three categories:. Online: The world lives on the internet now. Broadcast: Despite the downturn in cable subscriptions, television still holds much sway over public perception. And by understanding your target audience, you can better relate to them and better communicate with them…which is pretty much the whole point of this PR thing, right? Now, how do you think you learn how your brand is perceived? And no longer is it just text mentions that you can and need to monitor.

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You know that images dominate the media, so it only makes sense that you should monitor your brand for visual coverage too. AI-powered image monitoring , exclusively available from Agility PR Solutions, lets you literally get the full picture of coverage. But whereas understanding and mitigating potential risk is usually the responsibility of several internal departments, hiring a media monitoring provider can centralize the workload by:.

A coverage over time chart from the Agility media monitoring dashboard.

In the life of the PR pro, that day just so happens to come at the end of every campaign, if not more frequently. If you find one who writes extensively on your competitors, you can reach out and show them what you do differently. If you work for an organization that has interactions with the public perhaps as customers, investors, donors, employees, constituents, volunteers, neighbors, anything really!

Earned media can draw a lot of attention to a company, helping to bring in new prospects, customers, investors, and talent. A story in the paper is like an unspoken third-party endorsement for your business, as this is not paid advertising, but rather earned advertising. Not all startups can afford a robust media monitoring service; fair enough. Large businesses generate a lot of media coverage and online mentions, but much of that content is not relevant to their overall success or day-to-day operations.

They need help separating the noise from the important news. Whereas a small business may be able to set up an automated monitoring service and sort the relevant mentions from the noise themselves, big businesses typically prefer to receive curated managed media monitoring reports that focus on only the most relevant pieces. Large companies invest a lot of money in public relations. When a business reaches a certain size, there is almost inevitably some degree of public affairs risk built into the business model. Imagine the real-estate developer whose hundred-million-dollar build is threatened by community backlash over gentrification… yet chooses not to pay attention to influential blogs and community publications in the area.

How a business responds to a crisis can be the difference between A a disastrous hit to their reputation sales, stock price, ability to attract talent, etc. And guess what? The organizations in this category are driven primarily by the specific issues that are important to them and their members, constituents, or volunteers. Seriously, do you think public opinion might be important to an organization whose very lifeblood is the goodwill of donors and volunteers?

Take for example an organization whose mission is to protect the environment in a specific region. Beyond monitoring their own coverage, should they pay attention to news about a nearby industrial operation? About business and real-estate development in the region? Yes, yes, and yes. Media monitoring can warn an organization of outside opportunities, risks, and threats. In turn, monitored coverage of the public outcry in support of a cause can provide these organizations with some much-needed political leverage.

These organizations absolutely must be attentive to public sentiment and the ways they are being portrayed in the press. Want to dig further into the details? It should come as no surprise then that a public relations or integrated marketing and communications agency would need to monitor media coverage of their clients. Planning to reach out and pitch them? But there is a way to weave your way through it all and only listen to the things that matter.

The way most media monitoring tools work is with keywords. You or the media monitoring company, or a combination of the two of you compile a list of keywords that you think worthy of watching. Then you watch. This one is probably a bit obvious, but it bears saying: you need to monitor the media for mentions of your own organization.

After all, if a tree falls in the forest…. Now, these ones are big. When you monitor yourself, you gain the knowledge you need to better do your job. First you get the knowledge, then you get the power, then you get the control over your branding and positioning. Then, the value of your contribution may lie in your authority or expertise. An independent expert can offer an objective view.

If a programme researcher wants to know your job title, it may be because the producer has told them that a managing director can speak with more authority than a sales director. The top person can also be expected to deal with more difficult and searching questions than someone further down the organisation.

Getting it wrong We all remember the times when a newspaper or programme got it wrong. A tabloid ran pictures of Princess Diana, apparently with a lover — it was two actors who had been filmed. A documentary programme was slated for recreating shots of something that may or may not have happened. While details can sometimes be wrong, especially in the context of a breaking news story or a major accident, the broad outline is usually true.

As in any field, errors do occur. A sub-editor may go for a headline which misrepresents the truth. If two reports are read together, assumptions can be made which turn out to be false. The bottom line is, if the media consistently made gross errors in reporting, you would never believe what you read in the newspapers. We broadly do, though it has not always been so, and in some countries at some periods the general public is rightly sceptical.

Forming a good relationship with the journalist You want complete accuracy in the reporting of your business. One way to increase the chances of this happening is by having a good, one-to-one relationship with the correspondent in your area or subject of expertise. This is — or can be — a mutually fulfilling relationship: you supply information, accurately noted.

The journalist receives or confirms stories from an independent source. The columnist or programme researcher who covers your area can become a regular contact, whose knowledge and understanding of your business keeps increasing. As a result you may find stories about your organisation are usually fairly accurate, and if there is something complex to explain, she or he will take the time to listen.

There are many reasons why this is not necessarily true. Wherever you are geographically an issue can blow up which is essentially local: your impact on the environment, a break-in or burglary, something that happens to an employee. The head of news at Radio Thames Valley, or the editor of a Glasgow edition of a bigger newspaper chain, will be required to alert London to any story likely to grow to national size.

But that head of news will also want to attract a little glory by being in first with the news item. If you have cultivated the local station, you can count on better understanding and some advance notice of the line they are going to take. They are gratified if positive stories come out about their place of work. Good news stories played locally can have an excellent impact on employee motivation and morale.

The essential customer target is business-to-business: large consultancies, universities and others who want to get their employees to be more systematic about filing and data use. Polly, the Product Director, is trying to persuade Carol that the Filecost system is something that could be of general interest to the media. Polly believes media coverage could lead to employees asking their employers for the software.

Reluctantly she gives Polly the go-ahead. Polly is shown taking the Filecost 36 Talking to Journalists approach to help the professor clean up his system. As a result an article appears in the Express, with Softly, Softly receiving a mention. Sales for that month are tripled. John needs to persuade his Board John is currently writing a communications plan for the new Trust, to be presented to the Board.

Board members are on the whole very suspicious of the media. He suddenly remembers Dr Judy Sweeting, a diminutive GP who took two months off work to walk around the entire coast of England to raise money for a scanner. She was followed by the regional TV station and then shown back at work. An outside shot of the surgery included the name of the Trust.

John can use these cuttings to persuade the Board that positive publicity can build up community support. He says that is a good way to generate media interest. Lesley racks her brains, then suddenly remembers that very attractive actor who lives in a country mansion nearby. He has frequently contributed significant amounts of money to her charity and might just be persuaded to appear before the cameras, if she can demonstrate how much more money would be raised. And it might be quite fun to spend a morning discussing this with him.

What is the biggest single source of news stories, and how can you make sure you are in there? Why are deadlines so important, and what do you need to do about them? Why is it always worth your while to maintain a good relationship with the local media? They need you! Radio is often more relaxed and friendlier than television. You can take in a crib sheet with your key messages written on it, but do not just read it out loud. Noting the drawbacks For local radio the audience is not large — but it may contain a lot of your friends and acquaintances! And the whole experience is good practice for television.

Say you are in the middle of a meeting, or just say you need a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Use the time to prepare! Even in this phone call they will be put off by long pauses, repetition, circumlocutory language, technical jargon. Regard it as a practice interview — an audition, if you like. Get their telephone number, you may have to call back. You may be taken to an outside location for atmosphere, though this is more common on TV. On the phone, down the line or from a radio car With each of these options you run the risk that there will be a breakdown in communications or a technical hitch.

The sound quality may be poor, in which case the producer will probably cut the interview short: not the best outcome for you. Down the line Difficult because you have no eye contact with the interviewer, and you may find yourselves both speaking at the same time. Radio car Should have good sound quality, but there is the same feeling of remoteness from your interviewer.

If not, and you have to drive yourself, ask for a parking place in the staff car park and arrive in plenty of time. Many people switch off the radio if people raise their voices or seem to be arguing. This is probably the most difficult radio context to do well, and requires plenty of experience. You can ask to see the introduction to the interview.

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Ask what the first question will be, but not in so many words. For this reason say what you want to say and then stop! You may be required to take part in a discussion. If the interview is on a technical subject, remember all programmes are also aimed at a mass audience, who will not be specialist, so tailor your language accordingly.

The biggest mistake most people make when they talk to the media about their job is to use jargon. If it makes you feel better, take the sheet of paper into the radio studio and put it on the table in front of you as an aide memoire. Never read from it, just use the keywords to jog your memory. Imagine beforehand the most difficult question you could possibly be asked; work out the answer and incorporate it neatly into one of your key points.

Local radio Positive Do not underestimate the usefulness of local radio to you and your company or your projects. Not just your customers, but your employees may listen in. You can enhance staff morale with a good or amusing interview. Your interview may be widely used. If it has immediate news value it will be picked up by national programmes. Within the BBC, local radio interviews may be re-broadcast several times, either networked across the country or inserted into national news items.

Negative On the other hand, the local presenter deals with a hundred subjects daily; she or he will probably not be very well genned up on your topic. They may only know you have published a book, or won a major competition, but then expect you to supply all the detail. Find out all you can about the presenter beforehand. I know what my key messages are, what I want to say, and this is a chance to get them over to a large audience. Check out each of these indicators; put your key messages on a prompt card — and go for it! It will take only half a morning to reach as many as , Are you sure about this?

It is likely to be the first of several interviews, so if it turns out well, it will build up my confidence for a TV interview. Make sure to do a bit of evaluation afterwards. Listen to the tape; listen to the questions you were asked.

Use the experience. Cons 1. I could screw up, and if the MD is listening, or even just hears about it. My staff will listen in. I may make a mess of it. On the other hand, if you do it well you could raise morale. It will take up half a morning. Weigh this against the number of people you may reach, and whether they include those you are targeting.

But have you got a national invitation? If not, this may be your only chance to interest anyone in the media. Suss this out: do you need to prepare more? Should it be your boss rather than you who does the interview? In the same period nine million listened to Radio 4 and six million to Radio 5 Live. Experienced interviewees always praise Jimmy Young as a thoroughly professional, well-prepared and yet penetrating interviewer. Jeremy Vine, who follows him, comes straight from TV news. The issues are quite complex for the general public, but extremely familiar to Carol.

The press office tells her that the local radio station wants someone to come in and front a phone-in on the issues. Carol is not sure this is a good use of her time, but the press office seems to see it as an excellent opportunity for cementing good relations with the local media. Because of the preparation needed there is no point in her leaving the office, she might as well go straight on to the local radio station in time for the start of the programme at 7. John wonders why, and what the angle is likely to be. In fact, as John knows, the research points in quite the opposite direction.

Ex-smokers, that is to say those who gave up smoking some time ago, have a much better recovery rate. John thinks very quickly about how to interest the Guardian hack in this angle. Dr Marek is actually voluntarily running a stop smoking clinic, and apparently, far more women, and younger women, are coming along than ever before John knows The Guardian targets younger women readers. Would the correspondent like a photo of Dr Marek in his clinic, as well as an interview? The bait is successful. All that remains is for John to ensure Dr Marek will agree to the interview, and will avoid any pitfalls in answering questions.

Lesley surprises herself Lesley has been pushing the need to talk to the media to one side. She is very nervous about making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, or annoying head office by turning down invitations at the last minute. She discovers that he is very personable, appreciates the work she does in Birmingham, and agrees with her view of the main points she should get across. They practise with a tape-recorder, and she is surprised to find at the end of a morning that she has actually enjoyed the whole thing!

How can an interview on local radio benefit your company or organisation? How can you best assess what a producer wants from your interview? What preparation would you undertake before a panel or discussion-format programme? You may only be in the studio for ten minutes; what is actually broadcast may last only 45 seconds.

Yet the impact can be very great, if half a million people hear it, and a thousand or so remember parts of it, or hear or see a report of what you said. Even more so if six of those people include your competitors or significant players in your business world — a senior civil servant in a government department, for instance. This is why preparation is key. A well-prepared second soundbite is more likely to be understood and remembered or even repeated. And if you have prepared it, your key message will be wrapped up in the soundbite.

But how do you prepare? At Media Minds we once trained two individuals who turned out to be excellent spokespeople for their companies. However, at the beginning of the first day, when we asked them what sort of preparation they had undertaken, they fished out of their briefcases reams of paper covered in a long list of anticipated questions they believed interviewers might pose. A good deal of work had gone into thinking of every possible angle an interviewer might take. The preparation process Anticipating all the questions you might be asked is a very good start to preparation.

Of course it is sensible to assume the question that will be posed is the one you would least like to hear and work out the answer. There are several more stages to follow after that, however. You may be surprised to find that, even internally, there is not perfect agreement on some of the most gritty policy questions. It is also useful to identify the jargon you use everyday at work, the in-house code that creeps into your speech on a daily basis.

You may actually have to rethink what you mean by specific terms and try to find new, more self-explanatory words and phrases. Therefore you must know your facts. It is surprising how we all skate along, even in our professional lives, without detailed, accurate facts and figures. In your position, whatever it is, you are responsible for knowing the precise facts, and having them at your fingertips, at any rate for the duration of the interview.

And more is required: if you are in a rapidly changing situation, you must also know the latest news on your subject. Worth asking your interviewer, as a last resort, whether anything else has happened: newsrooms are the first to know. The next stage of preparation is therefore to bring yourself fully up to speed on all relevant aspects of your work or topic. Being both personal and political In a typical corporate interview, where you are talking about your work, your company or organisation, you have to get two fundamental things right: 1. The corporate message. The words you are going to use to put it over.

And so on and so on. It must be clearly stated and rehearsed: a highly polished set of statements put over with some inherent consistency. Speaking to the different audiences It is unfortunately only too easy to be pulled several ways in an interview, if you let yourself think of the different audiences who may be watching you or hear about what you said.

Some media trainers will advise you to research the programme beforehand, to see what kind of audience it has. While it is a good idea to know which groups the programme is aiming at, the producers know that on the mass media — radio and television — there is always a large casual audience made up of all sorts of groups. For instance, audience research has shown that up to a quarter of those watching daytime television actually work full time!

Some are shift workers, but others are waiting in garage showrooms, at home sick, or for one of a thousand reasons briefly watching the box. Honing your message The best approach is therefore always to hone your messages so that they appeal to the most general audience possible, but contain enough new and interesting material to capture many groups. You cannot just address some of these possible audiences. And because you want to speak to each viewer as an individual, it is worth imagining here your own special listener see Chapter 7. If you can appeal to that person, chances are you have also kept the attention of all the other viewers.

Matching the messages to your personal style The second element is you: your language, the way you come over. It is you as a person who is putting over the message. You need to project yourself a little more than usual, as if you were on the stage or giving a speech. Display more vitality, adopt a little more authority than you would in real life.

Controlled enthusiasm should be your watchword! Four is too many to remember. Add a fourth, and confusion arises in the mind. Finding your key messages 1. The first step is to work out exactly what it is you want to say. That may well be largely based on the agreed corporate messages. Write them down as a list of statements. Go over them and get rid of unwanted or extraneous material. The next step, quite simply, is to turn all these statements into three key messages.

This is the distilling down stage. In order to get to a maximum of three you are going to have to cluster your statements under three headings. Do not try to rush the clustering process. Each key message should be capable of being reduced to a headline: a new product which will clean your hair without you having to wet it might be advertised as a shampoo for people in a hurry. It may be more suitably answered by your third. You cannot necessarily get your points out in the order in 55 Face the Media which you first thought of them.

This is why you have to be flexible, and have to stick to only three main points. Later we will see how you can try to ensure that the questions help you do that. The interview did not go quite as Kissinger seems to have expected. Based on a report in The Independent Tuesday 29 June p. Media Minds gave a talk to a group of paperback writers, and several authors admitted they had done quite lengthy radio interviews, but forgotten to give their own name or the name of the book they were talking about!

Clustered within each of these are all the other messages Carol is keen to get over. However, John is pretty clear about the three key messages everyone should be trying to get over when they have the chance. The next step is to think up some nice soundbites to encapsulate these messages. Lesley discovers why her charity is unique Lesley has just undertaken an analysis of the competition. Lesley particularly likes Children Nationwide, which describes itself as the only charity which funds research into diseases affecting children.

She thinks perhaps her 58 Getting Your Messages Clear charity is special and unique because it is the only one that cares for the needs of the parent as well as the child after family disasters. This will be one of her key messages. Knowing what you want to say entails getting your messages clear. There are two parts to clarity: the agreed corporate messages, and the way you put them over in your personal language style. Cluster all the things you want to say into just three clear messages. Politicians do it daily, and some presenters seem to do it naturally, almost without thinking.

How do you turn your message into a soundbite? One way is to think of it as creating a picture with words, so that the picture pops into the mind of the listener or viewer you are talking to. Her body was as thin as a stalk of straw, but her head was as large as a thimble. The witch took seven years to grow up; during that time a cat told her stories which were full of evil and hatred, and so malice grew in her heart. As you read that paragraph, does your imagination build a picture in your mind?

Word pictures are an essential aid to being understood by your listener. Painting a picture in words is vital on radio, but it can also help on television. A vivid word picture can help to convey a complex message. The interviewee, Ian Redmond, with a little help from John Humphrys, manages to explain, or perhaps more accurately remind listeners of, the Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest. Redmond wants to describe what is happening to elephants in Africa and Asia, and to promote his organisation, the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species.

This title is quite a mouthful, as you can see, yet Redmond does successfully manage to work it into one of his answers. Redmond also uses vivid word pictures, and when he uses statistics he explains them and puts them in context. He describes trends; he uses analogies — three in all. He tells a story. He keeps his language simple. John Humphrys works with Redmond to produce an entertaining and informative interview.

It is very much a joint effort. They are stopping growing tusks. Redmond then uses statistics effectively. Building on that base, Redmond starts again. Your listener, driving a car or sitting in a railway carriage, is happy to be entertained. The listener likes a story: his or her ears prick up, and just for a moment you have a captive audience. Redmond then speedily explains that the dark form of the peppered moth became more common in the 19th century, because the dark moth was better able to hide on all the sooty tree trunks produced by the industrial revolution, and in fact this happened in only one generation.

I see! You will often hear interviewers working quite hard to clarify a point made, perhaps rather fuzzily, by the interviewee. All our trainees worry at some time about reactions back at the ranch if they simplify too much. What will their colleagues think if their complex 63 Face the Media work is presented in a dumbed-down version? In fact, if you succeed in painting a picture of what you all do, within the constraints of a media interview, they are more likely to admire you, and be glad they have so effective a messenger.

This can be a mistake. By easing into your familiar professional jargon, you are employing a sort of shorthand, and effectively leaving it to the journalist to decide how to present your story to the public. Even with such a sympathetic and knowledgeable interviewer, there is a danger that what will be highlighted is what interests the journal, and the message you wanted to get over never comes through.

If you have worked out beforehand what your simple messages are, you can state and reinforce them, using that language and the attractive and memorable examples you have come up with. This actually helps the editors do their job, for they have to come up with the eye-catching questions and stories which will take their readers further. Can you be simple? Some subjects seen so complex, even to those working on them — innovative technologies, complicated scientific advances, medical techniques — that distilling them down into soundbites seems well nigh impossible.

A quick rule of thumb: if you had to explain your work down the pub, or at a dinner party, how would you put it? The techniques are as follows. Product launches fit well into this scheme. For instance, BT painted a picture of evening time conflict in households where teenagers wanted to be surfing the internet while at the same time parents made family or social calls on the telephone.

With only one telephone line, there was frustration and disagreement. Recently a high tech company got a large spread about themselves, chiefly because they had a stunning photograph of people working in an office where the floor was completely covered in artificial grass. A team pulling through difficulties with a charismatic leader, or alternatively working well as equals, can form a storyline with plenty of human interest.

Or a tiny British 65 Face the Media company beating off competition from a much larger rival can be a modern-day version of David and Goliath. Knowing your stuff means being able to come up with a couple of very telling statistics, sharply focused, so that the viewer will retain them after you have finished speaking. Not only do you need to keep the figures simple, you should also indicate what you mean in words and tone. And always round the figure up or down to the nearest whole number. In two minutes, you might be able to speak as many as words. Keep your answers fairly short: 30 to 45 seconds is long enough.

That will give the interview pace, allow for more questions. Remember, media interviews do not give you enough time to explain. It can sometimes be better to start with your conclusion and only then bring forward the evidence to prove your point. Medics and horticulturalists use long words. Scientists and technicians use words nobody else understands. Bankers and economists think of money very differently from the man or woman in the street. These are the more obvious jargons. Any kind of shorthand used by people in the same line of work tends to be opaque to the rest of the world.

As a group, you may not even be aware how much special language peppers your talk.

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Try out your interview on an outsider, or maybe even a young relative. If you have used an acronym, always explain it. Always explain initials when you use them. If you can avoid them, then do. The penultimate stage of preparation is working out a spellbinding, never-to-be-forgotten way of encapsulating each of your key messages. Only you can do this, because it should be words that naturally come out of your own vocabulary and way of talking. If a word picture is built in, 67 Face the Media all the better.

It can stand you in good stead through a series of interviews. Rehearsing your nutshells The final stage, of course, is rehearsing your nutshells out loud. Make sure you can say them without stumbling over your words. Practise them in the shower. Become so familiar with them before the interview that just one key word will be enough to evoke the whole phrase.

That way, you will have no need of a crib sheet. Being enthusiastic Let the excitement of what you do come into your voice, your expression, your body language. That way, even if the odd word or phrase is missed, the overall impression is created of a positive person doing something worthwhile and life-enhancing.

It is a piece of software for paying costs of downloading items of software products from the Softly, Softly website, in a way that is guaranteed secure. She needs to find a way to describe the product which 68 Turning Messages into Soundbites makes its function clear, without offering too many hostages to fortune in the future. It also has to work in the far eastern market targeted by Softly, Softly.

Making use of a few good ideas from the PR company, Carol comes up with an analogy. Using this word picture, she can also conjure up images of the kind of new shopper who will be using it. John picks out the exciting bits John has persuaded the local news channel that some research on bedsores could actually be of interest to a wider audience. There is the chance to field one of his Medical Directors on an early evening news programme, but with only two minutes of airtime.

Fastened onto decaying flesh the maggots can bring relief to patients who may have suffered for weeks, in as little as 24 hours. Reluctantly because he is much more excited by the human genome project , Dr Carter agrees to do the maggots story this time, provided John promises to find him a slot on a late-night Radio 4 programme to talk about what really interests him! Payments for car hire or taxi fares seem difficult to make sound worthwhile, until Lesley hits on the idea of showing the difference it can make to one family.

Mrs Smith is living in temporary accomodation, after a fire started by her husband burned their house down. She has managed to hold on to her job in a small town ten miles away, but after the fire the journey to work by public transport and a half-mile walk takes one-and-a-half hours each way. Photographs and a video clip of the Smiths at home, and Mrs Smith being collected by the car, are turned into an attractive package for a regional magazine programme. Even without the visual aids, a word picture can be painted.

Keep the language simple. Try to tell a story. Create some word pictures. If you use statistics, put them in context. Use analogies, especially if you have something quite complex to explain. Always explain any acronym immediately you use it. Having a thick cold is unattractive; to reduce the effect you can sip a glass of warm water before you go on, take a cough drop if needed, but not during the interview!

On both radio and television, voice quality is important. If your mouth unaccountably dries up there are things you can do to get the moisture back: think of squeezing a lemon and sucking in the juice. To add moisture to a dry throat nip the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This can be done in a number of ways. Try to breathe more deeply abdominal breathing. Using body language In most sports a state of relaxed alertness is the right one for good performance.

You must not be too tense or you appear unnatural, nor too laid back or you will miss small cues. Looking over to one side or the other makes you appear slightly untrustworthy. Open, confident smiling enthusiasm and direct eye contact show you know what you are saying and are happy with your role. If you are fully prepared, you know what you are saying and why. You can, if necessary, get the same message over in two or three different ways. Staying alert yet relaxed This state is similar to the state achieved in some sports, when you are alert but simultaneously relaxed.

Doing a successful interview always has the element of a performance about it. You are alert to every opportunity to get your message over, and relaxed because your purpose is quite clear and you have prepared fully. Short answers provoke further questions.

You stick to your main messages, the interviewer shows their interest, the momentum of the interview speeds up and the viewer becomes absorbed one hopes in an interesting conversation. Encouraging the question you want The interviewer is aware of the need to maintain a conversational thread, and this is why most follow-up questions are generated by the answers you give. By sticking to your messages, all your answers cover one of your three pre-rehearsed points. If the presenter probes further, you have more opportunity to explain another of your key points.

Remember you will not necessarily be able to give your three messages in your prepared order. This is where there is no substitute for thinking on your feet. You know what your third message is, but you are not quite in a position yet to spout it out. They see through it, and distrust it. What you have to do is pay attention to the question, answer it rapidly, and then find some way to make a bridge or a link between the answer you have just given, and the message you wished to convey.

Using the two moments in every interview when you can get your message across You can be sure, in every interview, of just two points where you are bound to have a chance to speak and so get messages over. The first is the first time the interviewer comes to you. Try to make sure you fit the answer well to the question, but move rapidly to one of your messages. Fish out the key message which links best to the question.

The second chance and of course there may be more than two is when the interviewer is winding up. Use it; under pressure of time you may be forgiven for making a less than clever bridge, but do try to come up with a firm and memorable nutshell, using one or two of the phrases you have worked so hard on. Remember, do it as if you have just decided to confide in the interviewer. Tidman played and replayed tapes of their practice interviews and found, to the surprise of some, that rank was no guarantee of good performance.

Tidman and his team had a unique opportunity to analyse why some people came over so well in interviews, while others appeared arrogant or uncommunicative. A key point is that the television audience does not know you personally — as in any normal encounter — and so judges you by how you look and by your manner. Three rules for success Tidman and his colleagues extracted three rules for successful performance from all the videotapes and analysis. Second, you have to keep it, by saying something interesting which involves the audience. Finally, you have to leave behind a message, a lasting impression.

Vicars and priests giving sermons often use the same device. Train companies and water boards are always experiencing a barrage of criticism. There are overtones of aristocracy, distance, arrogance. Speaking to the individual The great point about using the second person pronoun is that you seem to speak to everyone individually.

As far as the audience is concerned, it is of no interest that you have been sitting in a radio car or twiddling your thumbs in a green room and your interview has now started. Instead, get to your point and grab their attention. Keeping their attention How do you keep that attention? It is a good idea to have an audience of one in mind as you speak. That one may be, as in my case, my mother-in-law: a highly intelligent woman who was not, however, particularly interested in my special area and knew little about it. If I could make her want to hear more, then that would probably apply to a lot of others as well.

An intelligent neighbour or pub companion, even a year-old nephew or niece, might do just as well. To keep attention, you need to talk in word pictures. What you say needs to engage the mind of the listener. Chapter 5 tells you how to go about creating word pictures. Using examples Using examples is vital, especially when you want to leave a lasting impression.

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At a recent literary festival Natasha Spender, wife of the poet, enlivened a session about gardeners and writing by telling how she was out in her Provencal garden at six one morning and heard what she thought was a woodpecker. She stepped quietly down a path until, beyond a hedge, she found the writer John Bayley, tapping away on his typewriter. That served to fix in the memory of her audience her point about how gardens can refresh and inspire writers. Being conscious of time Every second counts. Starting point Be ready to go straight in to subject matter. Within the interview Challenge important inaccuracies.

Recognise the complex, harrying question. Deal with interruptions by opening up, not complaining. Keep to your agenda. You the human being Create rapport. Be charming. Carol is also signed up for a one-day training session with a reputable media training company. John prepares his Chairman John has persuaded his Chairman that it is worth going on to a local radio programme to discuss the changes that will be happening as a result of the merger of the two Trusts. The communications strategy is developing well, and internal communications have already started.

All staff within the Trust have received full information, in paper form personally to their desks, in team meetings at local level and in site meetings. Consultation has been built into the process. There is no possibility that a member of staff will hear of the plans for the first time from local radio news.

Nevertheless, the Chairman has a tendency to reinvent the strategy as he goes along. John has a session with him to agree the three key messages he will be putting over. John uses the opportunity to remind the Chairman of some of the confidence-building points from his media training, and they run through the video made on that occasion. In the first she started coughing uncontrollably, and the interview 78 Feeling Confident had to be cut short.

In the second, she did not have time to prepare three clear key messages, and felt she had failed to leave any clear impression. However, she has many of the characteristics of a good TV performer: bright smile, enthusiasm for her subject and a warm, sympathetic appearance. In the middle of her weekly yoga class, Lesley suddenly realises that yoga techniques will be an ideal way for her to achieve the balance she needs between calmness based on good preparation and alertness achieved through gentle exercise. Now she always practises yogic breathing before interviews.

And they keep on asking her back — Pebble Mill Studios have become quite familiar! What they all have in common is boundless enthusiasm for their subject, immense depth of expertise, and the ability to filter highly complex material and present it to a mass audience. Enthusiasm and know-how, you can bring; what about presentation to a mass audience? On TV, as in any face-to-face encounter, what you say is less important than how you look.

It is only common sense, not vanity, to make use of this fact. This is not the time to try out a new hairstyle. Dress attractively but conventionally. Accessories Glasses or spectacles form a barrier between you and the viewer so, unless you are almost blind without, remove them for the duration of the interview.

Light-sensitive glasses can make you look like a member of the Mafia. Hats are best avoided. Using make-up You will often be offered a little make-up both men and women , usually a little powder to prevent you glowing under the studio lights. Accept the offer. If you prefer to be made up, do it yourself in advance, just in case the studio does not offer make-up. Only accept if there is a make-up person to do it for you.

Checking your appearance Without you realising it at the time, the camera may pan over you sitting in the studio, perhaps as the interview is announced in a trailer, or as the interviewer is asking the first question. Men especially may need to pull their jackets down at the back and sit on them, so that the collar does not stand up awkwardly behind. Practise all this at home in front of a mirror, so that on the day you can give the impression of a restful yet alert person, hands loosely folded, eyes bright and expectant.

Some of this may seem superficial; it is not. You would do the same for a job interview. The point is that television is rather unforgiving and can exaggerate visual discrepancies we hardly notice in real-life encounters. Have an open sitting position, with your hands only loosely clasped. People with their arms folded look defensive. Discomfort about what you are saying can show in so many ways. Touching the mouth or face while speaking often indicates anxiety. A long slow blink, where the eyes are partially closed for a moment, can be the sign of someone who is not telling the truth.

Sit still at the end! The camera may be on you as the titles go up, and if you rush away you will give the impression of just having been through an ordeal. It would interfere with any rapport you have built up, it would spoil the conversation. An interview is a kind of conversation. You are talking to the interviewer, and through him or her to the viewer. This is one reason you should always give eye contact to your interviewer. Your interviewer is, virtually, the viewer too.

Through the interviewer, you are speaking to him or her directly. If you achieve rapport and understanding with the interviewer, chances are you have already done so with everyone else. If you behave like a pompous boss, the viewer will want to see you deflated. You have to bring something of yourself into the equation. You are not just Operations Manager or Director of this or that but also a warm human being.

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Creating a rapport As in any important face-to-face encounter, you wish to create rapport. Try to think of something you have in common with most of the audience. Make reference to a common experience everyone has had: from finding the toothpaste tube has been squeezed dry to being stalled in traffic. On radio, too, the listener is making judgements about the personality behind the voice. Try to be your most charming, radiant and friendly self.

This may be an interview about your professional role, but what counts is how you seem to be as a person. Whatever is thrown at you, stay calm and remain courteous. If the interviewer becomes heated, you gain sympathy by maintaining an even tone. Often the sound engineer will ask you what you had for breakfast. In this voice test 99 people out of boringly tell them — and they ask that question several times a day! Why not, instead, say something that will help you and the interviewer to begin on an upbeat note; perhaps practise one of your key messages and give a big smile.

It is vital to speak clearly so that every word is understood. You may have as little as 45 seconds, so a mumble is a complete waste of time. Insisting on your right to such pleasantries may make you feel better, but it can irritate the listener, wastes time and may even distract you from making the best response. After all, in a news interview, which it would be on the Today programme, the content is the significant bit. If the interviewer has got something wrong, you may have to make a lightning decision about whether to challenge it.

If the interviewer has misrepresented you or your company or the situation, then by all means challenge what has been said. But if the error is only tiny, and not significant, it may be better not to break the flow.

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A good interview means balanced contributions from both sides. If you are interrupted, accept there may well be good reason for it and adjust accordingly. Speak with more enthusiasm; keep it simple. Instead, alter your tone slightly, respond helpfully to the interruption, and continue to say precisely what you had planned to say, but with a more open and confiding manner.

This is where you have to think quickly, and build a bridge between the question — which you begin to answer in some fashion — and your key point, which you must bring in as soon and as naturally as possible. If you use the technique of seeming to reveal something for the first time, in a conversational style which is open and personal, and if you are interesting, then the interviewer may well shift on to your ground. What we need is an even bigger pool of excellent players. The 88 Making a Success of the Television Interview soundbite they can use will then present exactly the opposite of the message you wanted to convey.

If they do, you will never be invited to take part in a live programme again. Listen carefully to the questions. Be seen to answer the questions, but work in your own messages too. Ending a one-to-one If the interview is one-to-one, try to fit your final point to the time you sense is available, and make it clear by tone and inflection that you have finished speaking. By signalling that you are finishing, you help the interviewer to wind up and so the interview ends on a calm and united note. Carol has been invited onto Business Breakfast, a fast-moving morning programme aimed at businesspeople, to talk about IT companies in general, and the way mergers and movements of staff are affecting the marketplace for their products.

It is quite a complex subject, Carol has a lot to say, and needs to think all the time about the impact of each statement on her own company, Softly, Softly. Fortunately she has brought Peter, one of her PR colleagues, along for company and support. He is an old university friend and they get on very well.

Peter can say almost anything to Carol without her taking offence. Peter has also noticed that Carol is wearing a permanent frown, because she is concentrating so hard. Peter waits until they are alone in the green room, then suggests to Carol she needs to lighten up a little to get her full, bright and bubbly personality across.

Carol responds with peals of laughter, removes the spectacles and consciously relaxes the muscles round her eyes. The merger of the two Trusts has been traumatic, with many staff having to find new jobs. John sometimes feels very tired of defending the Health Service. Last night John went for a drink with an old schoolfriend, who told him how the outbreak had affected his mother, who was in for a straightforward hip operation. Lesley spends money on her voice Lesley comes from Birmingham and has a very strong regional accent. Ben is very congratulatory about the way Lesley handles all the content issues; he notices that the timbre and tone of her voice are excellent.

Regional accents are perfectly acceptable, and can be warm and friendly. The only problem here is the way Lesley enunciates and projects her voice. With considerable tact, and a couple of well chosen anecdotes about well known presenters who benefited from voice training, Ben is able to persuade Lesley to take a short, professional voice production course. The way you look and sound are at least as important as what you say.

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The viewer is curious about you as a person. Be liked and trusted, speak clearly and above all, be yourself — or yourself at your best! Consciously start to develop and master the techniques to start and close well, to deal with interruptions and to avoid having words put in your mouth. Ideally, you and the interviewer are both sitting in an armchair, perhaps with a nice comforting table in front.

The camera flatters you and there is plenty of time to work up a good deal of rapport with the interviewer. Increasingly, cost savings in broadcasting organisations and the speed of news events mean that interviews are carried out under all sort of conditions, not always most comfortable to you. And remember before the interview that they need you. Make sure you are as comfortable and relaxed as it is possible to be. This is likely to be more effective than complaining afterwards. Is the studio too far away? If you can make time you may be more comfortable in a studio, with some chance of talking to the interviewer beforehand and finding out more about the programme.

You will be geared up, alert and prepared. The trouble with a telephone call from your office in the middle of the day is that you may not be well focused, and so may not perform at your best. Preparation is needed, not really to cover the subject matter but for the paraphernalia and techniques of this kind of radio. You will be given earphones, and probably a pencil and pad. Rather than short, snappy answers, you can develop themes and notions.

No harm in flattering your questioners, putting them at their ease, drawing them out. You should be given the full name of the caller just before they speak. If you need time to think before giving an answer, ask the caller a factual question. This increases your knowledge of their dilemma, or their point of view if it is an opinion piece. Talk in calm, measured tones; make your voice warm and friendly. If you do this, you hand over to the journalist the power to decide what are the more interesting parts of the conversation, and perhaps letting them edit out just those things you most wanted to say.

Being clear Prepare your main points — and your illustrations and anecdotes. When you have said what you meant to say, stop. However, they will decide, back in the editing room, which version sounds better. Usually there is a red light visible when the programme is on air. In a radio studio it is easy to forget how faithfully the microphone will pick up every sound. Be alert for the unexpected! Leave it to the camera operator to find the right angle.

He or she will have been briefed by the researcher who spoke to you beforehand, and probably also by the producer. It can be difficult to establish any kind of rapport, as they may be absorbed in switching to your subject, which they may consider for only three minutes before moving to another. Live and recorded interviews A studio interview may be live or recorded. In a live interview you obviously have more control over what is broadcast, but this is only much use if you are confident you can speak fluently, without pauses. In this case, pre-recorded interviews can be like touched up photographs: they improve your performance!

There are many different contexts: you may be tape recorded in your office, interviewed from a radio car or in a public place, taken out of a meeting for a quick comment. The interviewer can be counted on to bring you in at least once. Answer the question, but move swiftly on to your key points. Gives you leeway to dive in but be succinct, and if possible, amusing. Stay alert, look for the opportunity, much as you might in a real life conversation, for instance at a dinner party where your boss was present.

Interviewers and presenters always give a signal for the final question. Ask beforehand for the name of the person on-site who will help you make contact with the programme and interviewer. Assuming you are given help, you will be miked up so that your voice is heard, and have an earpiece through which you listen to the interviewer. This can be a little unnerving, as you will not be able to see who you are speaking to though they can see you.

Looking lively Down-the-line interviews are the only time you should look directly at the camera. Smile brightly at them, use lots of expression, as you would if there was a person there. The great danger with 98 Doing Different Kinds of Interview remote interviews is that you begin to look wooden and lifeless, because you have no one to respond to.