It is becoming increasingly clear in this day of instant communication and 24/7 news coverage almost everyone is going to have their 15 seconds of fame before television cameras. We all watch with amazement at times at the incredibly stupid things some people say to their embarrassment in front of cameras.
Conversely, one can always tell if a person has had media training because they stay on their message regardless of what the reporter may be asking.
In the interests of keeping any of my readers from embarrassing themselves allow me to offer a few tips on what to use when being interviewed by a reporter:
Rule #1: Never repeat the negative, which also almost always means never repeat the question back to the reporter. The media always asks questions in the negative: “Mr. Nixon, are you a crook?” It was answered by “I am not a crook!” Remember the headline?
In fact, anytime you find yourself defining something by a negative, stop and repeat as a positive. Think how many people define themselves by saying what they are not instead of what they are. At all costs avoid using negatives of any kind.
If a reporter says “Aren’t you misleading the viewers? John Jones says you are.” You don’t say “no, I’m not misleading the viewer.” That’s repeating the negative. Instead, you respond “John Jones is wrong. Here are the facts (or here is the truth).” You come back with a positive statement.
Use of the word “not” in any circumstance should be the big flag to you.
Not is negative, pure and simple.
Rule #2. Stay on your message. If you decide to do an interview, do so with a clear thought of what message you want to deliver regardless of what question the reporter asks. The reporter always has his or her pre-conceived idea of what they want you to say, but it’s your interview and you decide what you want to say.
One of the best examples of staying on message was a CNN interview early one morning with Rick Scott, the multi-millionaire businessman running for governor of Florida in 2012. His message was he was all about creating jobs and he had the know how to do so.
No matter what question the reporter asked he brought it back to his message that he was all about jobs. Every answer was “jobs.” He was relentless.
So what if the reporter got frustrated? Scott got his message across.
Incidentally, he won.
Rule #3: Master the technique of “blocking and bridging.” This is the device that enables you to stay on message. It simply means you quickly dispense with the question you’re being asked, that is you block the thrust of what the reporter is asking and you bridge to what you want to say.
For example the reporter says “isn’t it true you’ve lost ground to your competitor?” You respond “I’m here to discuss the processes in place that will restore us to primacy in the marketplace—they are a,b and c. . . . you don’t talk about the competition nor do you even accept the premise of the reporter’s question, you block and bridge to your positive message.
Rule #4: Look at the reporter and smile as much as possible. Don’t look at the camera. And always look the reporter straight in the eye, don’t be looking over their shoulder or to the side – if you do it comes across on camera as shifty eyed.
Rule #5: The mike is always on! Never say a word you don’t want recorded and if you act like the mike is always on you’ll never be embarrassed by an open mike which has tripped up some of the best from time to time, even the Great Communicator himself, Ronald Reagan.
Rule 6#: Never assume a reporter is your friend. They are after a story and if they can lull you into a false sense of security so that you say something you don’t want others to see or hear, for them it is a better story.
If they end up getting you to embarrass yourself, laugh at the wrong time, cry or say something profane so much the better because television is an emotional medium.
Keep these simple rules in mind and your 15 seconds of fame won’t live in infamy and eternal embarrassment for you. Now go do that interview and remember you’re in control.Share on Facebook