It is said that first impressions are made during the first seven seconds a person meets you. If this holds true, then it’s critical that your spokesperson’s message is clear and concise from the second an interview starts. The last thing you want is for your spokesperson to come across as unsure, nervous, or uninformed about his/her position on an issue. Here are three tips for training your spokesperson effectively on how to prepare for interfacing with the media:
Tip #1 – Facing the Facts: Since news is always breaking, it’s important to train your spokesperson not to ramble, because reporters don’t have a lot of time. Instead, inform them to keep their responses direct and to the point. Be aware that the reporter is listening carefully for that pithy 15-second sound bite, and the audience has a short attention span. The spokesperson shouldn’t memorize a canned answer, but should understand key facts and figures and provide anecdotes when appropriate. A canned response sounds stiff and rehearsed, so be sure to practice your messaging so you sound knowledgeable and conversational.
Tip #2 – Master the Sound Bite: Regardless of how well you control your message and carefully choose your words, reporters will often edit the audio to break responses into sound bites they can use in news segments. To effectively create better sound bites during an interview, remember to provide information in a usable form for stations. That means mastering the art of creating valuable sound bites in order to gain better control over how your message is received. Remember, it is not what you say to the media but rather what they choose to report on that becomes the news. Your responses are a valuable part of that news cycle, so give the station what they need. The control your spokesperson has over a message all comes down to how well prepared they are, and how well they understand the current public perception about the issue.
Tip #3 – Practice Makes Perfect: It’s an old saying, but practice makes perfect! There is no better way to polish a skill than by actually doing it over and over again in a realistic setting. You cannot get any more realistic than actually recording your interview ahead of time in preparation for an interview. This may seem like overkill, however, the confidence your spokesperson will feel after rehearsing their messages many times during mock interviews will prove to be very effective. By the time the actual interview is completed, your spokesperson will come across as cool, confident, and in control.