Media Training: 3 Common Problems & Solutions for Interviews

When we speak with the media, a slip of the tongue can be seen by thousands. A moment of frustration can last for years online.

No one will hear the apology. No one will care about the correction.

Once it’s on the record, it never goes away.

At PR Associates, we’ve been teaching this hard lesson to executives, managers and spokespeople for nearly 30 years.

We want to give you a peek behind the curtain of what happens in our Media Training workshops. 

Here are three common problems — and three solid solutions — to help you avoid common dangers and mistakes in your next interview.

Lack of Confidence

Problem

The media interview is a unique environment, with its own way of turning power dynamics on their head.

You might be a CEO. You might be an industry veteran, leading a global workforce.

But as soon as the camera starts rolling, and the red light switches on, even you will start to feel the heat.

That feeling of being powerless, small, and not in control — it’s a common experience in media interviews.

You might be used to filming promos or speaking to large groups, in front of your staff or as a keynote speaker.

But once it’s an interview with the media, with a different code of conduct and a journalist calling the shots — all bets are off.

Solution

We train our clients to remember that they still have a significant degree of power.

You might not be able to control the questions, but you are still the expert.

You are being interviewed about your passion, your expertise, your life’s work.

The journalist likely only started researching this topic in the last day or two.

So take a deep breath, and remember to have good reason to be confident.

Overconfidence

Problem

If you’re a CEO or senior executive, chances are you have done a presentation or two — and that’s an understatement.

You’ve probably told your company’s story countless times.

And maybe you’re the founder of that company. Maybe it’s ‘your baby’.

You’re confident — but are you TOO confident?

Overconfidence comes before the fall — and if that fall takes place on-camera, your demise will be televised.

Solution

When we deliver a Media Training workshop, or we coach an executive ahead of a key interview, we start with a focus on our target audience.

The journalist we’re speaking to is just a conduit, but they will reach thousands of people who likely have never heard our message before.

Who those people are will depend on the type of media outlet we’re speaking to, on what’s prompting the interview, and on the message we’ve developed for them.

But one thing is almost certain: this key audience will not be the same as the people you’re used to speaking to.

We need to customize our message for them, and speak as if they’re hearing our story for the first time — because they likely are.

Overconfidence can make us blind to the unique needs at hand.

Verbal & Body Language

Problem

When you become a client of PR Associates, either for Media Training or direct media relations support, we will work with you to develop your key messages.

But one problem to watch for is the disconnect between what the message is on paper, and how it comes across in the moment.

That’s because so much of how we communicate has to do with unconscious factors.

Body language is a big one.

Are you looking directly at the camera and the interviewer, or is your focus visibly drifting around the room?

Does your posture communicate confidence and engagement, or do you look lackadaisical and disinterested?

Are you giving off a vibe of aggression or defensiveness, or one that’s welcoming and warm?

Even verbal communication can have an unconscious element.

Maybe you’re adding lots of ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’.

Maybe you’re tripping over your words.

Maybe you’re talking too fast and too much, in a way that makes you seem like you’re floundering.

Solution

In your Media Training workshop, we’ll work with you to bring awareness to these important factors.

We’ll help you be mindful of the way your body is speaking for you, and simple ways you can sharpen the message that your body language is sending.

We’ll also help you tighten up the words that come out of your mouth.

You’ll need to be disciplined about how you speak, so that what the interviewer hears is what you intended in the first place.

For example, instead of tripping all over yourself to get an answer out, we’ll train you to stop, think, and breathe before you say anything.

You’ll be taught to start your answer by repeating the question, to give a simple Yes or No, and to follow it up with facts.

And then what do you do?

You stop talking, and wait for the next question.

Interested in learning more about Media Training with PR Associates?

Carla Bosacki

Carla Bosacki

Account Director

Spent the past 15 years working in National Television, working in front of a camera, engaging with audiences from coast to coast. Writer. Producer. Storyteller. Finding joy from the simple things, like a long run, dog walks, or a hike in the woods. Marathon runner, avid traveller, and adventure seeker. Lived and travelled through Mexico for 3 months, eventually volunteering at The Oaxaca Street Children’s Grassroots Center. A great listener, who enjoys hearing people’s stories, especially over a glass of chardonnay.

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