Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Media Training - Introduction

She let out a small scream and ran away… she actually ran away.

I looked at her retreating back, looked at my microphone, and then looked at my other guest. My voice seemed to come from a cave a long way off. I recited one of the great journalistic ‘thinking time’ phrases “So, if I can turn to you…” as I tried to work out if what had happened, had actually happened…

…and then time returned and the interview continued.

I had never had an interviewee let out a little strangled scream and run off.

I was presenting a program from a large college; we had already interviewed seven or eight people including some of the college’s special needs students and were building up to talking to the management. Two of the senior people were standing with me in the entrance hall, the producer in my headphones told me that we’d be live in thirty seconds; I relayed that information and carried on explaining to my guests just what would happen.

I was live, I greeted them both, and I asked something ground-breaking like ‘you must be proud of the work you do here?’ or some other soft warm up question, and then she let out a small scream and ran away… she actually ran away.

Until you’re in front of the media you don’t know how you’ll react. This senior manager probably thought she’d be fine, presenting and talking are all part of the managers role, however, when there’s a branded microphone, a journalist, a producer, a runner, and a waiting audience of thousands, you may suddenly give a small scream and run away. Or worse, your common sense, good judgement, brand identity, ability to speak, bowel control and higher functions all run off and your physical shell is left to try and respond to a journalist whilst your brain is doing something else.

Media training isn't just getting the story straight, it’s learning to be comfortable with the media, it’s learning the rules, it’s learning to play the game properly, and until you can do that your media interactions will always be average, at the best.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Get Past The Black Knight.

If you think your audience is your market segment, your customers, your potential customers, and those who may be persuaded to be your customers then you're wrong.

When it comes to media engagement and press relations your audience is a journalist.

Forget about getting your PR to your target, it won't happen unless you can get past the journalist. Journalists are the gate keepers; they stand on the bridge, sword in hand, saying "None shall pass." You can fight with them if you want, but you'll never win, they'll just keep standing there.

So what do you do?

1) Think Like A Journalist - What is their audience and what is the best way to engage with them?

2) Play The Long Game - Offer content that can move a recurring the story on, add to the debate, or give a starting point to a new strand of content.

3) Be Realistic - If it's just a commercial 'puff' expect to be knocked back or asked to pay for coverage.

4) Use Their Voice - Approach your media outlet with something that sounds like them. You wouldn't send a 'Sun' style pitch to the 'Independent' News room (and vice versa); even if they can see the story they'll be nervous about using something that won't sit well with their audience.

5) Be A Consumer - Journalists love to be read, watched, and listened to. Make a point of consuming the media you want to target so you can link it in to what that journalist may have already published.

Now you can get past the Black Knight, or at least give him a scratch...

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