I have been in public relations for the last 30 odd years, and I have seen my fair share of catastrophic spokespersons who ruined not just their organizations’ publicity efforts, but also lost credibility in front of the public. It is very important to make sure you have the right people to take on media interviews.
Every media interview is an “audition”. When spokespersons appear before a television or radio station for a “live” interview, they are put under the scrutiny of the host or presenter, as well as the thousands of listeners and viewers. Just remember, even top artists in the film industry have to go through harsh auditions for every single gig they try out for. This is certainly no different for the average spokespersons from businesses. Therefore, make every single media interview worth the effort by your communications team and public relations agency, and do only your best.
Let me share 3 critical tips your spokespersons must especially consider before stepping into a broadcast media interview.
1. No scripts
There are some common mistakes some spokespersons make when appearing before the media.
Let me first get this off my chest. No scripts! I have experienced first hand in horror, a senior executive reading off word by word from a pre-prepared script. And what’s worse, the script was dense on selling and light on knowledge. This is absolute anathema in media and public relations.
To the media and the public, a corporate spokesperson is supposed to be an expert, and so knowledge should sprout naturally and abundantly without the need for a script. Otherwise, there is no reason this person should be interviewed for comments.
2. Image is important
Yes, there is a trend of dressing more casually these days. Even cruise ship formal dinners no longer insist on guest dressing in formal suits and dinner dresses. The digitalization of industries and the emergency of a new generation at work have changed the dress code. The late Steve Jobs perhaps personified such a dress trend.
So, while appearing on air, whether on television, video, and some radio where they livestream to social media, you do not need to dress to the nines, but you should not be sloppy either. You do represent your company as a spokesperson after all, as its official ambassador. Dress appropriately, and enough to be respectful and mindful of the audience and the media.
3. Preparation is not optional
Some spokespersons are over-confident, without necessarily a deep body of knowledge or the necessary facts to appear before an interview. This is dangerous for the business, as anything such spokespersons say can be wrong or skewed. It is absolutely to be prepared even if you know a lot more than the media or the public.
What does preparation mean?
You need to have all the necessary facts, statistics, sources, best remembered by heart. This will empower you to be ready to quote very convincing numbers and quotes from reports and research, which is what good communication is. There is no shortcut to this.
You also need to look prepared. This is about the subtext, or body language. Before a camera, how do you look and sound? What does your posture say? What does your gestures mean?
Attend a good media training program with a public relations agency to understand what is demanded from a spokesperson, and how to ace media interviews. There is no excuse not to.
Roman stoic philosopher Seneca reminded us, that luck is where opportunity meets preparation.
So most importantly, if you are going tor a broadcast or video interview, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Use the mirror, or someone close and honest, to hone what you intend to say in front of the media, beforehand. Even the best award-winning stage actors rehearse relentlessly, so you are no exception.
Seamus Phan has 35 years of professional experience. Polymath Problem-Solver & Strategist – Leadership, Cybersecurity, Branding, Crisis, Scientist, Artist, Author, Aviation, and Theologian. Some articles are reproduced at McGallen & Bolden, where he is CTO and Head of Content. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2023.