Tag Archives: media interviews

Media Training Says Always Proof Read

There are numerous examples of how a lack of proof reading can cause embarrassment and grief to companies and individuals. Today I read on a Murdoch website that “a 124-year-old family business went kaput within two months because of a typo on a government register. Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

Welsh engineers Taylor & Sons, which was established in 1875, got a shock in February 2009 when Companies House, the UK government’s registrar of companies, recorded the company as having gone bust.

It hadn’t.

But Taylor & Son had. Note the difference — one had an ‘s’ and the other didn’t. The Telegraph in the UK, reported that while the mistake was caught and corrected three days later, it had done irreparable damage to Taylor & Sons, the business that was still kicking at the time.

Now, a former owner of Taylor & Sons has successfully sued the government, which he says destroyed the business with incorrect spelling.

Yesterday, the British High Court found the government liable for the demise of the business, which could leave taxpayers with a £9 million ($17.2 million) legal bill.”

Closer to home, I often see “typos” on GTV 9 News which I used to produce. Suburbs spelt incorrectly, names spelt wrongly etc. I often wonder if the producer or his/her assistant actually check the wording coming out of their graphics department. I did a short stint at HSV 7 news desk four years ago and the producer there had the graphics department come to her desk and show her every “super” that would be used on the news that night – and she proof read each one to ensure the spelling was correct.

GTV 9 News – take note!!

 

Good Riddance Pell

I’ve written about Cardinal George Pell before and this time I have to say good riddance as he leaves our shores to take up an exalted Vatican position. What a pathetic excuse of a man to have a victim of church sexual abuse right in front of him at the Royal Commission hearing yesterday and not look him in the eye as he issued an apology of sorts.

It reminded me of Tiger Woods staged apology a few years back that looked like it was being held in a funeral parlour and lacked any emotion or credibility.

For those interested here’s today’s Sunrise report revealing that he apologised again at a Mass last night!

Whether its a media training workshop or a video production interview I always tell my subjects to put any pieces of paper away and look the interviewer in the eye. This builds trust and credibility.

I strongly suspect though that the global push by lawyers to take control of every aspect of our lives is behind a lot of people reading from prepared scripts. It just looks phoney!

Props – Great For TV Interviews And Press Photos

Don’t be backward in using props if you think they’re going to focus people’s attention on your message. But, if you do use a prop, just remember to hold it up higher than you normally might to accommodate the framing for a TV interview or Press photo. The same rule applies if you’re a hand talker and you want people to fully see your hands not just the tips of fingers running along the bottom of the screen.

Sharman Stone using a propThis photo shows Liberal MP for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, holding up samples of SPC fruit at a media conference on February 13, 2014 as she welcomed the Victorian Government’s injection of funds to save the Shepparton factory from closure.

Watch the Typos – The Media Do!

A press article today says Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s office went into damage control on Wednesday morning when its spin doctors spun the wrong way.

In a media release to accompany the latest greenhouse gas emission figures for Australia, Mr Hunt was quoted in the opening line as saying: “Emissions figures released today show the Carbon Tax is still inflicting plenty of gain, with no environmental pain”.

Within four minutes, the release was speedily amended to swap the offending nouns, to say that the tax was in fact “still inflicting plenty of pain, with no environmental gain”.

The article said a spokesman for Mr Hunt wanted to be clear “it was my typo, not the Minister’s”.

These are the sort of accidents that can happen when preparing media releases and anyone involved in that activity has to be super vigilant. In my media training workshops I highly recommend reading the release back to yourself several times and, if possible, get another set of friendly eyes nearby to check your work.

1o Wrongly Said Sayings

There’s a really good piece on The Age online today that lists 10 sayings that people often get wrong. Because I’ve heard a few of these in my media training sessions I thought I’d post this so if you’re not sure you can check if you’re saying the phrase/word correctly.

As The Age points out, it can be incredibly embarrassing to get commonly used sayings wrong. Called an “eggcorn”, these slips happen when someone tries to use a word or expression they’ve heard that they’ve never seen written down, so muddle up the words. The name for these mistakes was derived by someone once describing an acorn as an eggcorn.

Here’s the first and last points on the list:

1. You’ll often hear someone say that something has become “a mute point”. What they should say is that it’s become “a moot point”.

10. Are you making major changes in your life, or job? Don’t describe this as a complete 360 degree change in your life. You’re not going full circle. You’re actually making a 180 degree change.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/small-business/franchising/ten-sayings-people-always-get-wrong-20140128-31jii.html#ixzz2sKGSbKdR

Media Training Staple for UK Public Servants

In all media training workshops I have run, I have always stipulated the very real need for people to speak in plain English – mainly so they can broaden their reach but also so they don’t bore or turn off the viewers, listeners or readers. Now, I see the British Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has ordered public servants in his department to write in plain English.

Gove, a former journalist himself, has introduced 10 guidelines to get bureaucrats to write in language that their mothers would understand. He said officials should introduce one idea per paragraph, use a sympathetic tone – and make sure they spell the recipient’s name correctly.

I say it’s not just bureaucrats who need such advice. Certainly in my experience with the corporate world and training their executives to handle media interviews, it’s a far more widespread problem – generally concentrated in middle management with less senior and more senior executives prone to speaking like the rest of us do, in plain English.

Catholic Church Needs Media Training




Wow, does the Catholic Church need some media training. Archbishop Denis Hart yesterday faced the parliamentary inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations. Ruth Hilton from Moorooduc summed it up perfectly in The Age today – 18 years to defrock an abusing priest, then a smirk and a flippant ‘better late than never’ from Victoria’s senior Catholic cleric. Shame.

denis-hartI couldn’t agree more. There’s a place for flippancy in some media encounters but that certainly wasn’t one of them.

And the public agree – the Comment section in today’s edition of the paper was full of criticism of the Archbishop – as well as the And Another Thing column.

Next week it’s Cardinal George Pell’s turn at the inquiry and I can just imagine the arrogance that man will display.

Tony Abbott Sees The Light





Interesting to read at the weekend that Opposition Leader (not for long) Tony Abbott  has seen the light in relation to his media performances. Apparently Abbott observed in himself a distinct difference in the way he would answer people at doorstop press conferences (they’re media conferences Tony, not just press) and the way he would deal with people at a community forum in  his electorate.

Eureka – he’s seen the light. I keep telling participants at our media training workshops to imagine themselves in a social situation, be it drinks at the pub, a dinner party or a BBQ with neighbours. The last one is the closest to that community forum Abbott speaks of. And then talk to the media the way you would at that social situation. This lends itself to a much better, more natural conversation.

The downside is that you don’t have as much time in a media interview to put your case as you might in a community forum. But, gee, let’s work on honing your messages and then deliver them in that friendly manner. You’ll be really surprised at the results.

Abbott said he realised he was becoming a little snappy to people at his doorstop press conferences (there’s that word press again) and that really wasn’t a good look as far as the public were concerned.

He then went on to show his lack of understanding of the media by saying the people asking me the questions may as well be members of the public, rather than annoying journalists who are QCs for the prosecution.

Tony, Tony, Tony – the media are the public. That’s their job, to represent the public and ask the questions they think the public want answers to. No working journalist will tell you this but, as a former working journalist, let me tell you – journalists are merely conduits through to that public.

One of your predecessors, John  Howard, once told talkback man Jon Faine that he was there to talk to the public not to Faine – and Faine thought that was pretty insightful of Howard who, incidentally, was a master media manipulator. Take heed Tony Abbott.

Bfeore we go, let’s add some more business-speak to the list. In today’s paper I see these examples from a share float – “establish taxonomies”, “vendor agnostic integration layer” and “configurable naming convention management”. Good grief!

Media Training Helps With Media Releases Too





Media training is not just about helping you prepare for a media interview. It can involve other aspects of the media encounter, such as preparation of media releases. In today’s Age there is a little item that says:

“When pitching story ideas, it could be worthwhile to check if the event being spruiked in a media release is still occurring and if the date of the milestone being marked has already occurred. Just a suggestion.

Obviously the journalist involved, Suzanne Carbone, had received such a bad media release. I always tell my media training workshop participants to ensure you have the correct contact details and, if you’re writing the release during the week for a weekend event, make sure you have after hours contact details so the journalist can reach you if they need to.

I was working on the Channel 7 newsdesk in Melbourne a couple of years ago when a PR lady called to thank us for running a story on her new health breakthrough. When I told her the international speaker we filmed had the words from the projector over his face most of the time her response was: “I wasn’t expecting television.” I told her that if you send out a media release to the media, expect all forms of it to turn up, then you’re covered.

By the way, it is media release, not press release as it covers all arms of the media – press, radio, television and internet.

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.

Love,

Andrew