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Media Training 101: Four Tips to Ace Your Next Media Interview

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Have you ever lined up a killer interview for your company or client, only to have your efforts foiled by an inarticulate spokesperson?

Or maybe you've had to do damage control for a spokesperson who went off message and revealed sensitive company information. Perhaps you are said spokesperson.

Media training and preparedness is critical for individuals who interface with the media. It ensures spokespeople can clearly and effectively communicate with members of the media, builds confidence, and ensures messages are powerfully delivered. Below are four tips and techniques to help you or your spokesperson ace your next media interview.

Prepare

Have you ever watched an interview where the interviewee rambles on and on? They’re like a deer in headlights, unable to articulate or communicate key messages. To perfect message delivery, preparation is key. The best spokespeople show up to interviews clear on messaging, in the loop on the reporter’s story angle, and equipped with additional resources that could be useful to the journalist.

A few tips to always remember in advance of any interview:

  • Follow the reporter and outlet on Twitter
  • Book/respond to the interview opportunity ASAP
  • Read at least the last three articles the reporter has written
  • Gather: What’s the story about? What’s the angle?
  • Who else is being interviewed?
  • Get clear on your key messages

Perform

The interview is the spokesperson’s time to shine. Proper media training ahead of time helps perfect message delivery to ensure spokespeople can clearly deliver key messages to the press for maximum impact and education.

When speaking to journalists, be sure to:

  • Keep responses brief but answer the question fully — think sound bite
  • Use everyday language your mom or dad would understand
  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Be comfortable with silence
  • Tell stories to help get a message across
  • Ask the reporter questions

Perfect

‘Perfecting’ is the art of going the extra mile for journalists. This is how you become a go-to resource for reporters. A few key tips to take note of:

  • Ask the reporter how else you can help them
  • Thank the reporter for their time
  • Don’t ask to review a copy of the article
  • Share and thank the reporter on social media once the article is live
  • And review with your BAM team to identify how you could have done better

Practice

Blocking, bridging, and flagging are techniques a spokesperson can use to navigate hardball questions, manage an interview that's gone off track, and highlight important key messages. Learning how to weave them into conversion takes practice. A few examples of these techniques include:

  • Blocking is used during an interview when a reporter asks a question the spokesperson can’t or won’t answer. An example blocking phrase would be, “I can’t answer that, but what I can tell you is…” Never ignore the reporter’s question. A good spokesperson will acknowledge directly if they can’t speak on a certain topic right now and transition the conversation appropriately.
  • Bridging is used when an interview has gotten off topic. Bridging phrases, such as, “Another aspect to consider is…” are used to bridge the conversation back to the talking points the spokesperson brought to the interview.
  • Using flagging phrases in an interview signals to the reporter that what the spokesperson is about to say is important. For example, a spokesperson could say, “It’s important to remember…” right before they hit on their key messages.
Any individual that interfaces with the media for the purpose of providing information or a unique perspective can benefit from the media training tips and techniques outlined in this post. A spokesperson who spends time preparing for an interview, practicing their message delivery, and goes the extra mile for journalists will be set up to ace their next interview. 

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