Have you had a few regrets in your dealings with the media? Perhaps you couldn't accommodate a reporter's schedule, and she turned to one of your competitors for an expert opinion instead. When journalists are on tight deadlines, they don't have time to wait for you. Or maybe they even ask that you drive to their TV station to do the interview. You hate traffic and wonder if it's worth the trouble. The problem with that thinking is, it may not mean just one lost media opportunity. If they find someone else who is more keen this time, there's a good chance they will interview them again when they need a sound bite on the topic.
If you want to become the media's go-to expert in your field, you need to:
- Be able to share your knowledge in a compelling and concise manner.
- Drop industry jargon and do not speak over the heads of the audience.
- Push back during the interview when needed. The most confident interviewees know how to make their point without coming off like a bully. We've all seen how bad behavior during an interview becomes the story--taking focus off of the real, intended messaging.
- Appear at ease on camera, even if you are not calm on the inside. This takes practice for most people.
- Be flexible. Your business responsibilities are obviously important, but if you want to improve your media visibility, you need to make media interviews a priority too.
Even worse than regretting the interview you didn't do, is regretting the one you did. Anything can happen during a live TV interview. You don't need to be perfect but you need to be able to adapt on the fly.
- The anchor may change topics on you during a live interview. The new topic is major breaking news and a producer should give you a heads up. But you should always check news headlines just before a media interview.
- They may cut your time so your planned talking points need to be trimmed. Don't just speak faster hoping to jam them all in. Have shorter versions in your figurative back pocket.
- They may add another guest to your segment and this person is hogging all the air time. She keeps interrupting you and you are being too polite. This is push back time.
- You may be distracted by something going on back at the office. You really need to be in the moment during media interviews. If you aren't it can show--in your body language, facial expressions and even your responses.
You wouldn't wing an executive presentation and expect to wow the board. Neither should you expect to win over a TV audience without some media training and practice. It doesn't have to be an arduous process. Start by figuring out your media goals and share those with your media trainer. If you're a small business owner, more than likely you'll be the one dealing with media. You wear a lot of hats and don't have the luxury of sharing this responsibility. For larger firms, any executive who may face the media should be prepped. On-camera practice is invaluable to today's or tomorrow's executive.
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