What to do if media like your story
So you’ve written the perfect Media Board entry, it’s gone out to the media, and then… your number one media target rings you up and they want your story.
It can be very daunting to go live to air on your favourite TV show, do talk back with a radio host you listen to regularly or to write an opinion column for the paper or online news source you admire most.
The experience can unravel even the most experienced expert – you can have everything you want to say ready to go, you’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time and then the bright lights stun you into silence, or the first talk-back listener takes a stab. If you don’t manage the experience and yourself properly, before you know it, it’s a flop.
Apart from being embarrassing, performing badly in the media can be damaging for your business, your personal brand and your future media opportunities. But if you arm yourself with these tips and tricks, you’ll always have something in the back pocket, to get you through the most unnerving media moments.
How to prepare for your big wig media opportunity:
- Ask whoever has got in touch with you for a quick run down on the topics they want to cover in the interview/spot. Don’t ask for specific questions – that just adds another task to the list and it makes you a bit ‘too hard basket’, but asking for topics of discussion is perfectly fine and will make sure you’re entirely across everything you need to know on the subject – you’ll be full bottle and ready to fire away.
- Make sure you don’t ingest anything just before the interview that’s out of the ordinary for you and will make you too calm and relaxed or too pumped up and psyched. No crazy double shot espressos and no alcohol.
- If you’re really nervous, take 10 deep, long breaths before you go live or do the interview. More oxygen in the blood = calmed nerves.
- During any TV interview, make sure you look at the person who is talking to you, not the camera – unless of course you’re doing a live cross and have to stare down the barrel of the lens. Looking at the person interviewing you will always make you come across more relaxed and centred, it can be daunting to look down a camera and it will look very unnatural if you’re being interviewed by someone.
Tips for managing unnerving mid-interview situations:
- For when you don’t know the answer to something – If it is a factual question, and you don’t know the answer there is no problem in saying, ‘I don’t know the answer to that’ point blank. Once you have said that, you can then segue into a related area, rather than leaving your answer stunted.
- For when you’re asked for your opinion, and you don’t want to give it – Refusing to give your opinion on something is kind of like using fifth amendment rights in a US court, it makes what you were going to say pretty obvious and it derails your credibility. You should be prepared enough on all facets of the topic to give your opinion – you are the expert after all.
- Remember to take your time and speak slowly – being a fast talker in media is incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. The person trying to interview you, the listeners and viewers. It makes it difficult to keep track of what you’re saying, which will ultimately mean you won’t get a good flow going in your interview. Take your time to speak slowly, like you would if you were making a keynote speech.
- Don’t give a yes or no answer – Always, always, always elaborate, give the interviewer something to work with. A yes or no answer with no explanation will leave you coming across as rude and ill-prepared.
- For when you get an angry caller – Just because someone takes a stab at you, it doesn’t mean you need to retaliate in that manner to defend your position. Take a moment to compose yourself and then take the high road by using your expertise to make eloquent points in defense of your argument. Go the rational path instead of the emotional one and you will come out on top.
- For when your spot gets canned – Anything can happen in media because, well, anything can happen. You might be lined up to do the biggest live TV interview of your life, and then a worldwide breaking story blows you out of the water. Don’t respond with anger or frustration to the journalist, just let them know you’re happy to pick it up again when they want to and that you’re available to them. This will stand you in good stead in the long term by building good relationships.
The truth is, getting media traction is thrilling, but it’s also risky. You need to manage yourself well in the situation, and if you do you’re likely to be asked back again and again.