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.