Some Media Training Thoughts With Real Media Interviews

I was running a media training workshop yesterday for four executives and thought a few comments from the day might be helpful.

While running the media training course a real call came in from the media to this organisation and a spokesperson whom I’d previously media trained consequently recorded TV interviews with channels 7 and 10. We took the four participants in my course outside to watch these real media interviews being recorded and they learnt more from this exposure. Afterwards I asked the spokesperson to address the new media training group and they were to hear of him asking both interviewers whether they had/were going to interview other people on the topic. Really, what did they say? He also told them how he had repositioned himself from squinty sunlight into the shade as it would make him look better on TV. These were all valid points that my new group learnt from watching the real thing and hearing from the experienced spokesperson who recorded the interviews.

Other comments – today’s TV crews are two person, a camera operator and a reporter and that reporter wields a radio hand microphone. This limits the positioning of the reporter as he/she has to be close enough to the interviewee to mike their comments. In yesterday’s real media interviews, the interviewee was a hand talker but experienced enough to know not to hit the proferred hand microphone with his hands as he moved them around. A less experienced hand might have wandered into the path of the microphone and rendered that grab useless!

One final lesson the group learnt on the spot. The interviewee was chatting to one of the reporters while the cameraman set up his shot (normal practice) and sure enough what they talked about came up in the subsequent interview. Just make sure that pre-interview chat contains a nugget or two of real information you want to get out there.

Of course both those interviews recorded yesterday were to be edited but you have to get the interview down on the tape/card or you have no chance of it going to air.

Hope those topical comments are useful to those of you considering a media interview or media training.

Warren Buffett Doesn’t Need Media Training

The extraordinary investor Warren Buffett doesn’t need media training. He has a genuine, folksy manner about him that appeals to a lot of people. In other words, they trust him and he comes across as sincere.

His annual letter to shareholders went out last Friday and the New York Times said it “was written in accessible prose and largely free of financial jargon…it holds appeal far beyond Wall Street. This year’s dispatch contained plenty of Buffett’s folksy observations about investing and business  that his devotees relish.”

Ah, if only Australian business would listen to that and try to replicate – not necessarily the folksy observations but certainly the lack of jargon part. We say in everyone of our media training workshops that you should be talking to the media as you would talk to someone in a social situation (eg. drinks at the pub, BBQ or dinner party). Sure, you might have to tame your language a little but if you head down that path you will give better interviews.

In that same vein of talking simply and sincerely, here’s a great farewell letter from the sacked CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason – how refreshing a read!

People of Groupon,

After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why … you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.

For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.