Top 10 Mistakes People Make With The News Media

People often make mistakes when they’re faced with a media interview. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, as a journalist and a media trainer, and here are my top ten mistakes.

1. Not believing that it’s your interview as well. Thinking that it’s purely the journalist’s interview and worrying, therefore, buzops about what you might get asked. Don’t forget the lovely quote from former Secretary of State in the USA, Henry Kissinger, as he arrived at a news conference – “does anyone here have any questions to go with my answers?”?”

2. Giving in too easily to the media instead of standing up for yourself. I’ve seen CEOs who wouldn’t take any rubbish from people at work submit like a pussycat to the news media – and it’s not a pretty sight. bellanic

3. Agreeing to instant interviews instead of making sure you allow enough time for proper preparation. If you have to lie to the media do so. They could be lying to you to pressure you for an instant interview (by telling you some story about deadline pressures) sokosmiracle so use a similar tactic. Tell them you’re in a meeting (even if you’re not) and that you’ll call them back in 20 minutes. That much preparation time might be short but it’s a lot better than no preparation at all.

4. Believing every word in the journalist’s questions. Journalists will sometimes make things up to sound you out, just in case there’s any grain of truth to the accusation and they can have a ‘gotcha” moment. Remember that you’re the expert and that’s why the media are chasing you so don’t let them browbeat you with exaggeration, pressurewashing bluff or downright lies.

5. Being far too polite if you’re asked impertinent or ill-mannered questions. You should quickly think you’re in a social situation like a dinner party and think how you would answer the question there as that’s usually a better answer. Usually, that will make them be stronger and more forthright as in point 2.

6. Forgetting your bridging phrases and sitting there with an open mouth and blank mind. There are a lot of bridging phrases you can use to link from the question to your answer. I heard a new one last night on TV news that I thought was worth repeating – “look, I’m not here today to talk much about that, but I can tell you that….”

7. Failing to have key messages and delivering them. You need to develop three or four key messages and have evidence to back them up. Next, use them in the interview. If you don’t, why bother talking to the journalist at all? With practice, you should stick to your messages and repeat them, discodetailing with variations in the words used so it doesn’t sound like you’re repeating yourself.

8. Not injecting some “entertainment value” into the interview. Too many people believe the news media are there purely for information gathering but today’s news media, more than ever before, want that information delivered in an entertaining fashion. Maybe a clever little catch-phrase, a story that highlights your point, even humor can work as can scorn and other techniques. Perhaps just letting your own personality show is a good start.

9. Not being passionate about your messages. How can you expect to convince the journalist and his/her public about your sincerity and beliefs if you’re not being passionate about them? Nothing kills a media interview more than a lacklustre performance by the interviewee. varioustips

10. And, finally – not understanding the limitations of radio and TV compared with print. Print will take a lot more detail (especially local newspapers) than its electronic counterparts. But, if you can appear on TV regularly, even with short interview grabs, you can build up a far more powerful image and perception in the public mind.


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