Meeting the press – how to get the most from the media
There are few more stressful experiences than standing before a packed media scrum, Karen Brown Cannings Purple’s National Director explains why prior preparation is the key to a successful media engagement.
Think – breathe. Think – breathe. Think – breathe.
Listen to the question. Listen carefully.
Speak slowly. Speak clearly. Speak in complete sentences.
Don’t say anything stupid!
Hot lights glowing, assertive journalists firing questions.
The stakes are high. Your answers are on the record and will be the subject of intense and immediate scrutiny.
You have a limited time to deliver critical information or a clear message and your efforts will be judged by your peers, your staff, your investors and your stakeholders.
For those of you who think this picture is melodramatic – think again.
Every day corporate and community leaders are required to communicate with their stakeholders through the media. From dealing with an ongoing operational crisis in which lives are at risk to explaining why an investment decision didn’t meet expectations, there are countless scenarios which may attract media attention.
While many companies are investing in creating their own content delivery platforms and channels, there is still the need to deal with the media in all its forms if you are going to have your message heard and understood, particularly when dealing with a crisis scenario.
And when it comes to coping with the throat-constricting, gut-churning feeling of facing the cameras, there is no question that practice is your friend.
Just as companies regularly stress test their safety and operating systems to ensure they are fit for purpose, company spokespeople also need to have their skills constantly tested and improved.
Media, crisis communication and presentation training helps equip executives with the skills they need to feel both confident and comfortable dealing with the media.
Regular training sessions, using realistic and practical scenarios, also allow executives to experience the full gamut of media exposure.
The reality is that every situation requires thoughtful preparation to deliver an appropriate and informed response.
Being well prepared and well trained to deal with a range of different scenarios can ensure you have the ability to focus on the situation or the crisis you are confronting without having to worry about the skills you need to communicate your message.
Regular and realistic training sessions, which allow executives to learn from their stumbles in a safe environment, can mean the difference between success and failure when a critical incident occurs.
In times of crisis there is no escaping a rolling camera and a live microphone. So investing in media and crisis communications training will always be an investment well made.
Karen Brown is Cannings Purple’s National Director and an expert strategist, with experience in senior policy and media roles in both state and federal politics. She was chief-of-staff and deputy editor at The West Australian and also the WA editor for The Australian. Contact Karen