By: Kendall Tenney, Founder/CEO 10e Media
You may have created a phenomenal marketing strategy, but it could all go to pieces in a matter of seconds with one bad interview in the media. These days, it doesn’t matter if your mistake happens on a small local TV station, a broadcast network or online because it’s going to live on and possibly develop a life of its own on the Internet. With that in mind, here are five common media-interview mistakes that damage brands.
1. The wrong spokesperson
Just because you’re the CEO doesn’t mean you should be the spokesperson for the company. In fact, with almost all of my clients, I recommend using someone other than the CEO to represent them in the media many reasons.
The right spokesperson comes across as intelligent, affable and unflappable. He or she also has the gift of gab and the ability to deliver messages clearly and concisely.
Conversely, the wrong spokesperson uses an excessive amount of industry-speak, has difficulty staying on message and creates awkward YouTube-worthy moments like this one:
You would never even consider making a presentation at a company meeting without preparing. Yet, I’ve watched many people decide to just “wing it” in an interview which will be watched by hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of people.
It is critical to spend at least as much time preparing and even practicing for a media interview as you would for any sort of public presentation.
3. Playing in the weeds
How many times have you seen a reporter lead the person being interviewed completely off message resulting in disaster for the interviewee?
There’s no excuse for going into a media encounter without a game plan and a clear message to be delivered. Doing that one simple thing can help a lot, but learning how to consistently avoid the weeds and stay on message is a skill developed over time and with training.
4. Getting defensive
Want to guarantee your message will be lost in translation? Show anger or outrage over a reporter’s question. Just ask Coach Dennis Green.
5. Unclear message
No one representing a company or brand should go in front of the media (and this includes social media) without a crystal-clear understanding of the message which needs to be delivered and a well-defined plan of how to effectively convey that message.
The reporter’s job is to ask questions and the job of the person being interviewed is to deliver a message. Sometimes those agendas collide and that’s when being able to field tough questions and deliver the message becomes more difficult and more important.
Kendall Tenney is the founder and CEO of 10e Media, a public relations and media training agency focusing on strategically elevating brands through effective media exposure, strong relationships and innovative message and media training.