If the Today Show called you right now for an interview about your product, what is the first thing you would do? If you couldn’t answer this question within 5 seconds (or if your immediate response was “panic”) you need to read these media training tips.
The media loves “controversial food.” This puts food industry professionals in a tough position, because stories that appear benign could quickly become inflammatory. You have to be on your game and do the necessary preparation in order to maximize the opportunity. That’s where media training comes in. Don’t believe me? Watch this clip from CBS This Morning:
Hate him or love him, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant did a fantastic job in the hot seat. And it wasn’t by accident. He is skilled in the art of media, because he has taken the time to do some media training. And he knows the following five tips for nailing media interviews:
Media Training Tip 1: Lead with Empathy.
Viewers need to know you’re human. No matter how polished you look or how well rehearsed you are in your messages, no one will hear your messages if they don’t feel like they can relate to you. People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. You’re not trying to win a competition. You’re trying to earn the trust of the consumer. So, how do you come across as a real person? Media training can help. First you have to mean it. Authenticity is key. Second, put yourself in the viewer’s shoes, especially if you’re addressing common concerns. You don’t have to agree with angry customers. You just have to let them know they are being heard.
Media Training Tip 2: Speak to Core Values.
Any time you go into a media interview, you should have one core message and three supporting points. But here’s the catch: messages are only as good as your knowledge of your target audience and what they value. By weaving values into your messaging, you are more likely to connect on an emotional, and memorable, level with the audience.
Here are some great examples of value-based messaging:
- Honest Tea: Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, organic beverages. We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our products, with sustainability and great taste for all.
- sweetgreen: We source local and organic ingredients from farmers we know and partners we trust, supporting our communities and creating meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to create experiences where passion and purpose come together.
- KIND Snacks: Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
Media Training Tip 3: Avoid Jargon.
Jargon is not a welcomed guest in the house of communications. And especially during media interviews, you need to refrain from corporate language” like “moving ahead” or cliches like “our hearts go out to”. When you use corporate jargon in a public setting, you’re asking people to spend energy on interpreting you. The key is asking your audience to expend as little energy as possible when listening to what you have to say. Language should be plain and simple, short and sweet.
Media Training Tip 4: Prioritize Body Language.
One mistake I’ve seen time and time again is that people forget to prepare for body language before granting a media interview. Consequently, the viewer becomes distracted by the poor body language and doesn’t hear the message. We think through everything we are going to say. But we don’t think about where we’re going to put our hands or where we’ll direct our eyes. There are specific strategies for body language for different scenarios. For example, if you are sitting down, make sure you’re sitting at the edge of your seat so you look engaged. If you are standing up, consider pointing to props that help illustrate your point. There are times when you should look at the camera, and times when this is strictly off limits. Working with an experienced media trainer is a worthy investment and can help you navigate these different scenarios.
Media Training Tip 5: Prepare. And then prepare again.
First of all, even the most seasoned professional needs to spend some quality time preparing for a media interview. This helps you handle curve balls. So if you’ve prepared sufficiently, you won’t have to waste energy thinking about the things you have control over. This frees up your attention to really listen to the reporter’s questions and deal with any unexpected topics that might come up. You need all the brain space you can get!
For more information about how media training can help grow your business, get in touch.