Monday, May 10, 2010

Don’t Let the Media School you—Get Schooled on the Media!

“[You reporters] should have printed what he meant, not what he said. “
--Earl Bush, press aid to Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley

Talking to live media is a tricky thing. You often don’t get retakes and reporters are known for twisting words and taking comments out of context. However, those in the public eye, who are regularly in front of media, need to make sure they are well-prepared for interviews. There are countless examples of celebrities, bands and government officials who have been ill prepared for their shining moments on TV or radio. And, these bad interviews often make the news or force the person to scramble for an apology-laden statement. But, these gaffs can all be avoided with a little media training and preparation.

Last week on my way to work, I was listening to NPR’s Steve Inskeep interview House Minority leader, John Boehner, and was surprised at the lack of finesse in Congressman Boehner’s responses. It was clear that Congressman Boehner, much like Sarah Palin, could have benefitted from a little media training. Here’s just one example of a question that could have been answered in a much clearer and concise way:

INSKEEP: How important do you think the Latino vote is going to be in 2010?

Rep. BOEHNER: I think it's too early to make that calculation. Matter of fact, pollsters are having a very difficult time modeling what this election this year looks like. People who are - never been involved in the process, who are scared to death, they see all the spending, all the debt. And the result of all of this is that Americans have driven off of their couches and into the streets

Really? Too early to tell? The truth is, all voters and votes are important and that is the message that Congressman Boehner should have been portraying. Whether or not pollsters are having a difficult time modeling the election, it doesn’t matter. It just takes one vote to win. So perhaps I would have put it this way:

“Steve, every vote is important and I think in past elections we’ve seen various ethnic and age groups, including first-time and the Latino voters, make a big difference in the outcomes of races. So, yes, the Latino vote is important. However, pollsters are having a tough time modeling this election so as a party, we are trying to get Americans—no matter their age or race—motivated to stand up for what they believe in and vote on election day.”

So the moral of this story is that if you’re in the public eye, get some media training! We at Connect2 Communications ensure our clients are prepared for all types of interviews, be them print, radio or broadcast. There is a vast difference in how you approach each of these types of interviews and it’s imperative that you learn the difference so you don’t get stuck on camera or live on the radio wishing you just would have put that answer another way.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Look Right, Look Left, Look Right Again

When you were a kid, your Mom always told you to “look right, look left, look right again” before crossing the street.

That’s pretty good advice that can easily be applied to a company’s PR and marketing programs. Too often, companies rush out (across the metaphorical street) and embrace the latest online programs because they don’t want to look like they aren’t “with it.” Social networking is a good example.

Not every company in the world needs a Facebook fan page…..or a Twitter account….or YouTube channel. None of these programs will make you successful on their own and certainly none of them are silver bullets that will enable you to leap frog your competitors. First, you have to look to make sure you’re customers are actively engaged at a professional level, and that they want to connect with you on any given platform.

The truth is, I’ve seen hundreds of companies launch social networking programs only to realize they don’t have the content required to make it meaningful or can’t attract an audience that cares.

The sad part is some corporate execs, in their rush to be relevant, don’t apply the same business diligence to PR and marketing programs as they do to other aspects of their business. So to take it back to the basics (just like Mama taught):

Social networking, Twitter, etc should only be part of your marketing programs if:

  • LOOK RIGHT - A significant part of your target market(s) are willing to engage
  • LOOK LEFT - The format provides a opportunity to demonstrate leadership, shape opinions or participate in debate; and
  • LOOK RIGHT AGAIN - It’s integrated into, and not separate from, other marketing and PR programs.

So before you fall prey to the social networking charlatans or run headfirst into time-consuming and irrelevant programs, take a hard look at your customer base on see if they would prefer a social network that is online or in person.