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ROI of Executive
Media Training

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I took an interesting meeting with a CEO recently. Within five minutes, it became clear to me that I walked in with the wrong assumption i.e. that he understood the value of executive media training. He didn’t.

In fairness to me, media training is such a given in most company’s executive development programs that it didn’t occur to me that this CEO wouldn’t appreciate its worth.

ROI of Executive Media Training

The CEO wanted to be able to measure his return on investment. I explained that executive media training is not like SEO— an easily measured metric. I can’t promise you that it will deliver you x number of customers or this many impressions.

What I can tell you is that the ability to communicate your message in the media—across all platforms—is invaluable. And the inability to do so is at worst—catastrophic– and at best– a missed opportunity.

For example, if you’ve gone through an executive media training program– and you do well during a three minute interview on a top morning network news program— you can communicate your message to five million viewers for free. If you wanted to buy three minutes of advertising during that show—it would cost you at least $300,000.00

If you have NOT been media trained–and you don’t do well during that interview—you’ve not only missed an opportunity to connect with millions of people in one fell swoop, but your performance might cause some people to think negatively about you, your company and/ or your brand. (Example: BP’s CEO Tony Hayward, “I want my life back.”)

Intangible Results

How do you measure confidence? You can’t. But you know it when you see it. And you know when you feel it. Nothing will build your self-esteem more regarding interviews than being media trained. There’s something powerful in knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way. The best executive media trainers make sure that you are prepared for every scenario.

CLOSING

Lastly, the CEO asked why he should work with me. I shared my favorite compliment from a client.

“While other media trainers I’ve worked with have left their students with a list of “do’s and don’ts” to worry about, Noeleen left them with the two things they really need: new skills and the confidence to use them.”

And that is what makes my executive media training services… priceless.

Corrections

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My friend called me up and said, “Great quotes in that article, but where did the writer get the idea that you’ve only worked with “several” professional athletes. You’ve worked with dozens. You should ask for a correction!”

“Not on your life,” I said.

“Why aren’t you asking for a correction?” he persisted. “That writer got it wrong.”

“Yes, that national sports columnist got it wrong. (He actually never asked me the question.) But he also gave me half a dozen great quotes. And I have never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth.”

So when should you demand a correction and when should you let sleeping dogs lie?

Little details: I know it may hurt your pride, but if someone misspells your name—you need to let it go. If you want, you can write to the reporter and say, “Thanks so much for the mention. I really appreciate it. No big deal, but my name was misspelled. I only point it out so that you’ll know for the next time you interview me.”

Factual Errors: If a reporter got the facts wrong, especially if you were the person he attributed, you need to call him immediately. Calmly explain his error and ask that he correct it. If he doesn’t—and your reputation really is on the line—then you’ll need to find out who his boss is and have a conversation with her.

Out of Context Errors: This is the trickiest of all corrections. Chances are good that you said what you were quoted as saying BUT the quote was taken out of context. Start by calling up the reporter. Give her the benefit of the doubt and calmly say, “Perhaps our wires got crossed. I didn’t say that in reference to that. I was speaking about this when I said that.”  If you’re lucky, she’ll say, I apologize if I misunderstood you and I’ll see about printing a correction. But most likely she’ll be afraid of getting in trouble and she won’t change it.

FINAL WORD:

If I’ve said this to clients once, I’ve said it a million times: Record every single interview that you do. That way if there’s ever an issue—you’ve got a recording to play back to the reporter and/or his editors. Without it, it’s your word against the reporter’s word. (And fair warning: Even if you have a recording—it may not get you a correction. Some publications refuse to print them, especially more informal online organizations/ bloggers.)

Spokesperson Savvy

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Think it doesn’t matter who delivers your company or brand’s message during a crisis? Think again.

Do you recall BP’s spokesperson saying that he’d like his life back, while the people of New Orleans continued to suffer?

How about a Toyota executive, reading a statement off a piece of paper, during their massive Prius recall? (I believe that he was also speaking Japanese. The clip that I saw on the news was translated by a newscaster.)

Or maybe you caught Tiger Woods’ robotic, over-rehearsed “news conference”?

All of these “performances” hurt the company and/ or brand involved. And much of the damage could have been avoided if they’d been smart about choosing a good spokesperson, who had received executive media training.

Process of Choosing a Spokesperson

1. Identify someone NOW within your company, who performs well under pressure and thinks well on her feet. Don’t wait for a crisis. Be proactive.

2. Get executive media training/ crisis communications training for that person. In fact, train a few people. In my experience, there’s usually at least one person within a company who is unexpectedly good.

3. Watch the video of everyone who receives media training. Who delivered the messages the best? Who looked most comfortable on-camera? Was there someone that people would relate to and like? Who was unflappable? Who ad libbed well? Who always looked calm and in control?

4. If your brand is popular around the world, make sure that you have spokespeople that can speak every language in your major international markets. I’d recommend that the person also be from that country/ region if possible. People instinctively place greater trust in those that they believe understand them and their culture and by extension their crisis.

Lastly, work on a crisis communications plan. Involve your spokespeople. Make sure that they understand their role during a crisis.

Lucky People Capitalize
on Opportunities

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Whenever a pitch has hung up in my strike zone, I’ve crushed it.

When I was a reporter, if I saw a way to walk around the yellow-taped perimeter of a crime scene to talk to a cop about a murder, I did.

When I was recently upgraded to first class on a flight — and a very successful R&B singer asked me what I did for a living– I told him all about my business. (He asked me for a card.)

My point: I’ve always known how to capitalize on opportunities when they’ve been presented to me.

Missed Opportunity

The saddest thing a client I was media training ever said to me was: “I had a great soundbite all worked out, but the reporter never asked me the right question!”

“Never, ever wait for a reporter to ask you the right question,” I said. “Take control of the interview.”

If you pay attention, there are always openings and opportunities to work in your messages. But you have to be able to recognize them and think quickly on your feet to capitalize on them.

Lucky

Being able to see and seize these opportunities requires a certain mindset.

Recently, one of my twitter followers (@ShannonPaul) shared a blog post Erik Calonius wrote about lucky people. He discussed a study in which people were given a newspaper. They were then asked to count the number of photographs in the paper.

Some “lucky” people finished in a few seconds while other “unlucky” people took two minutes. What was the difference? The “lucky” people read the answer on page 2 of the newspaper, “’Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.’”

How did the “unlucky” people miss that?

Calonius quotes the author of the study.

“’Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else… Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there, rather than just what they are looking for.’”

Winning Mindset

The same holds true for media interviews. If you’re so worried about what the reporter is going to ask you and how you’re going to respond, you’re never going to be able to capitalize on opportunities within an interview.

Instead, try to relax. Focus on what the reporter is asking and quickly assess how you can work in messages that you want to express. If you see this interview as an opportunity, not an ordeal, your chances of success are greatly improved!

Carpe Diem!

Top Three Media
Interview Mistakes

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I spent 12 years in the network and local television news trenches, so I know firsthand the mistakes people make when they’re being interviewed.

1. The person talks non-stop. In the newsroom, we referred to it as the “diarrhea of the mouth” interview. The interviewee never comes up for air. They just go on and on and on. And most of what he’s saying isn’t relevant. As a result, the interviewer will have to work really hard to find a soundbite. These are the interviews that most often wind up on the proverbial “cutting room floor.”

2. The person doesn’t speak in complete thoughts/ soundbites. Example: What’s your favorite color? Most people will just say, “Blue.” People who have gone through an executive media training program will give a better response: “My favorite color is blue.” That’s a complete soundbite that can stand on its own without any further explanation or set-up from the interviewee.

3. The person doesn’t listen to/ doesn’t understand the interviewer’s question. Before you respond, listen carefully to make sure you understand the question. If you don’t understand it, ask for clarification THEN answer the question.

If you have made these mistakes in the past, you might want to consider contacting someone who specializes in executive media training. They can help you improve your messaging and your on-camera performance.

 

 

Should You Do
That Interview?

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“Should I do that interview with…” is a question that I get asked all of the time by clients.

My response is: it depends.

The first consideration: are you one of those people who believes that there is no such thing as bad publicity? If you are– and you feel confident in your ability to handle tough questions– go for it.

If you disagree– and I personally do– then you should do some investigating before you agree to any interview.

CHECKLIST

1. Who is doing the interview? What’s his reputation? Does he have an axe to grind?

2. What, if any, news organization is he affiliated with? If he is, check out the organization’s reputation. For example, do they have political leanings that you need to know about?

3. Check out the interviewer’s last  six stories, blogs, interviews etc. and see what topics they covered. Was his writing fair and balanced? Were both sides of the story represented?

After you’ve done your homework, weigh the pros and cons. If the person is fair and balanced, I’d recommend doing the interview. If the interviewer has an axe to grind or a bad reputation, I’d recommend skipping it unless there was a good reason for you to take him on. And even then– I’d only recommend it if you’d been through an executive media training program and were good at handling tough questions.

Body Language

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I was walking my dog in the park when I noticed a group of 5-6 year-old girls playing softball. Bases were loaded. A tiny little girl stepped into the batter’s box. She dug her heels into the dirt and held her bat with just the right amount of tension. I knew from a ballfield away that the young girl was going to kill the first good pitch she got. Sure enough I was right. She hit a triple! Three runs scored.

How did I know? Her body language screamed: CONFIDENCE. She was confident in her abilities and clearly expected that she would do well. No surprise to her–or to me– that she did.

Speakers

I can do the same thing with speakers or people being interviewed on television. Within seconds, I can predict if they’ll do well. It’s in the body language. It’s in the eyes. If you’re confident, it will show. People will be drawn to you. They’ll listen to what you have to say. Similarly, if you’re nervous or are feeling defensive, that will also show. As a result, people will tune you out or wonder if you’re telling the truth.

So before your next presentation or interview– do your research. Prepare what you’re going to say. Anticipate questions and your responses. That will help you feel more confident. Next– practice in front of others or in front of a mirror. Watch your body language. Don’t cross your arms. Lean towards your audience/ interviewer. Gesture. Smile. Make eye contact.

Make me believe that you’re confident. Through your body language, facial expressions and gestures– project the attitude of a winner. Make me think that you’re going to hit one out of the park– even if you’re only hoping to make it to first base.

 

photo credit: Snap Man via photopin cc

Online Demand
Changes Interviews

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The man behind the camera said, “Who are you and what do you do?”

The man being interviewed said, “My name is —- and I uh. Wait. Can I start again?”

Yes, I saw the whole mishap on-camera. And so have plenty of other people by now.

A few years ago, you’d never have seen that mistake– at least not in traditional media outlets. At most– a couple of soundbites would have been chosen and that would be that. BUT with greater emphasis on new and rapidly changing online content– more and more reputable and non-reputable organizations are posting interviews in their entirety online.

Part of that–as I said– is to create new online content for readers/ viewers. The other part is that you now have many people/ organizations who don’t know how to edit and/or don’t want to pay anyone to do it.

As a result, you need to really watch what you say. NEVER assume that anything is off the record. NEVER assume that someone will edit out your mistakes. From the time that you walk into the room to meet someone– you must assume that everything is on-the-record AND that everything that is recorded will be shown.

This also means that the need for media training is greater than ever. Not only do you need to watch what you say, but you need to have enough content to fill ten or fifteen minutes.

Makeup for Men

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After yesterday’s blog on makeup for women, I received many emails from men wanting to know whether they should wear makeup on-camera. YES!

Never fear– you don’t need to buy a liquid foundation. You need some type of powder (pressed or loose) that will keep the shine off your face. It’s a fact that we all sweat under hot camera lights, so you need something to prevent that sheen of sweat from forming on your upper lip, forehead and/or nose. (And if you’re bald, you might need to dust some powder on top of your head.) Laugh all you want, but you’ll thank me later when you don’t look like the anchor in Broadcast News with flop sweat.

What Should You Buy?

Your options run from loose powder to pressed powder. The loose powder is usually packaged in a round container. The pressed powder will be found in a compact. If you can, try to find a shade that matches your skin tone. If that’s too difficult, look for translucent powder that doesn’t add any color. It’s sheer and just absorbs moisture.

One word of warning– the loose powder tends to be messy. It can get all over the place if you shake out too much. A compact is much easier. It comes with a powder puff or sponge and all you do is swipe your puff over the pressed powder. Then pat the powder puff all over your face. Voila! You’re ready for your close-up.

Brands

If you’re shopping in a drugstore, try NYC, Physician’s Formula or Coty Airspun for loose powder. For pressed powder in a compact, try Cover Girl or Maybelline. Both are available in a wide variety of shades.

If you’re willing to spend a little more money–and you are brave enough to walk into a MAC makeup store– I highly recommend their Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. It’s $26.50 and worth every penny.

Final Note

Remember, if you choose a makeup that adds color to your face, you will also need to put makeup on your neck. Otherwise you’ll have have this terrible two tone look i.e. a darker face and a lighter neck. Both your face and neck should be the same shade.

On-Camera Makeup

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Update: October, 2013– Smashbox is discontinuing its High Definition Healthy FX Foundation. In its place, they are offering their Liquid Halo HD Foundation SPF 15.

Koh Gen Do also offers a newer HD makeup: Aqua Foundation SPF 15.  It comes in a jar whereas their Moisture Foundation comes in a red tube. Both are $62.00.

When I first started out in TV news, a makeup artist told me, “If you feel comfortable walking down the street with the amount of makeup you have on, you aren’t wearing enough to be on-camera.” (She knew that I was a girl who went for a natural look in my everyday life.)

Even with the advent of High Definition Television that still holds true BUT now you need to make sure your foundation melts into your skin. Otherwise we’ll really see every imperfection. In other words, the days of heavy and/or pancake makeup are over. Or they should be if you want to look your best on-camera.

HD Makeup

For years, I have recommended that clients go into MAC stores and ask artists to help them purchase on-camera makeup. Lately, I haven’t had great customer service experiences with MAC, so I hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend them. But you can still meet great MAC makeup artists who will help you at their stores.

If you’re doing this on your own, there are two HD liquid foundations that I recommend.

My hands down favorite, especially if you have sensitive skin, is Koh Gen Doh’s Moisture Foundation. A Hollywood makeup artist introduced me to it at the end of the summer. It melts into your skin and a little goes a long way. Plus my sensitive skin LOVES it. You can find it online at Sephora or on Koh Gen Doh’s website. You might also try contacting Koh Gen Doh’s delightful customer service reps. When I emailed them about shades, they offered to send out samples that helped me choose the best one for me.

My second favorite HD makeup is Smashbox’s High Definition Healthy FX Foundation with SPF 15. This also melts into your skin with a wide range of shades. It goes on best when applied after Smashbox’s Photofinish Foundation Primer. You can find both at Ulta, Sephora or on Smashbox’s website.