“[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.