Posts Tagged ‘key messages’


Mia Moo Fund: A Media Relations Dynasty

Monday, July 28th, 2014
MIa Moo Fund Media Dynasty Johna Burke Duck Dynasty BurrellesLuce Media Relations PR

L to R: U.S. Rep Trent Franks, Mia Robertson, Reed Robertson, Missy Robertson, Jase Robertson. Photo by Johna Burke

A couple of weeks ago I attended the press conference and media event with U.S. Rep Trent Franks and Mia Robertson and her parents (part of the Duck Dynasty family) for the Mia Moo Fund. My niece, who also attended, was born with a cleft lip and palate, so the Robertsons’ admirable charity and the congressman’s invitation for Mia to speak was particularly meaningful. Amidst all of the Duck Dynasty fanfare I was most impressed by the master spokespeople, Mia’s parents, Missy and Jase Robertson.

The Scene: Your beloved daughter was born with a cleft palate and wants to help other kids with the condition, so you help her start a foundation. A congressman born with the same condition helps raise awareness of the condition’s struggles and provides leadership support to the many children affected. Your daughter writes a speech for the event and you take your family to Washington, D.C. The media interviews begin and you are asked about abstinence before marriage and your family patriarch’s controversial remarks. This IS media relations.

MIa Moo Fund Media Dynasty Johna Burke Duck Dynasty BurrellesLuce Media Relations PR Trent Franks

Rosie Fox (front), U.S. Rep Franks, and the Robertson family. Photo by Johna Burke

While it’s always imperative to prep answers to easy questions before a media interview, this event reminded me about the importance and potential perils in lack of preparation on the really tough questions. Mia, Missy and Jase all have strong conviction for their subject matter and their passion resonates in every syllable. That kind of conviction isn’t as easy for the average spokesperson, so in lieu of family conviction and faith, make sure your spokesperson is mindful of these quick tips:

Relevant news topics: If anything is trending in the news even tangentially related to your industry make sure to address the affects to your organization’s mission.

Key messages: All messaging related to the topic and also key messages as they relate to other potential topics that could arise during an interview. Always have strong sound bites.

Importance of rapport: Being relaxed is the goal, but looking relaxed is essential. Body language on camera can indicate when a spokesperson isn’t prepared. While you can’t avoid the tough questions your spokesperson’s ability to build rapport will translate into a more confidence which translates to their ability to control the interview.

A stand-out moment from the interviews was when Mia was asked “What is the coolest part of having a new lip or new palate for you?” Eleven year old Mia responded “I don’t know” and the reporter followed up with “So, no comment. But you’re much happier now.”

No, she didn’t say “no comment,” she answered a bad question honestly. Based on her initial interviews I have no doubt Mia will be bridging and saving reporters from their own bad questions in no time.

The Mia Moo Fund tagline is “Every kid deserves a smile,” and this event gave a proud aunt and PR person a lot of reasons to smile too. Thank you.

Key Media Training Skills For Public Relations Professionals

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

According to TJ Walker of Media Training Worldwide, who recently led a PRSA webinar on Media Training for Public Relations Professionals, there are some key skills we need to know as PR professionals to help our clients prepare for a media interview. 

Walker says for every interview, your goal is to get your message across in the final story. But there are actually five possible outcomes:

  1. Interview, no quote
  2. Quoted out of context (and sounds racist, sexist, ageist, etc.)
  3. Quoted, but not your message
  4. Quoted and pretty much on message (sort of by accident)
  5. Quoted, word-for-word the message you wanted (and picked in advance)

In order to get to the preferred outcome (#5 above), you first must remember that you have no control over what the reporter will ask. However, there are three elements that you do have control over.

“So, what if a reporter rapid fires several questions at me?” Pick the question to reply to based on which one will let you get back to your message the quickest ~ TJ Walker, Media Training Worldwide.

 

How to look comfortable.  Your client can remember everything you’ve coached them on, including their key message. However, no one will remember if they look stiff or scared.  Walker says PR pros should never ever let their client do an interview without a video rehearsal. It doesn’t matter the quality of camera (You can use your cell phone, iPad, or whatever.) It’s just practice.  You can even shoot the video in the cab on the way to the interview, as long as your spokespeople see and hear themselves. Even for telephone or traditionally print media, Walker recommends video rehearsal as there are some things that can be heard even if not seen. And, besides, you can pause video to show “bad’ sound bites so the client can hear for themselves.

How to get a solid 30-second point / message across. While brainstorming (sitting around discussing what should be said) has its value, you must get into rehearsal mode as part of your interview prep. What you think you’re going to say goes out the window when the interview begins.  Walker advised that when brainstorming, you need to isolate every single message or idea—talking in paragraphs can’t be processed and the context may get cut. Think about what the reporter may ask, what the audience may want to know, and what you want to say, and then narrow that down to the top three. PR pros should not allow their client to do the interview until they’ve narrowed their focus to these three key points and can express them in 30-second sound bites.

How to answer interview questions. Interviews are not like a normal conversation.  Responses need to be kept positive, and never guess! If your client doesn’t know the answer, it’s okay to say that – and then bridge back to your three messages.

During the webinar, attendees were able to ask questions, and there was one regarding wardrobe choices that I found exceptionally noteworthy.  We ladies tend to think black makes us look slimmer, but Walker says on video black can actually make you look fat. If you can’t see where your body stop and arms begin, your body just blends together making you look wide! Totally makes sense but I’d never thought about it in those terms.

Do you have a media training experience you’d like to share with our readers? What media training tips can you add?

Don’t Let a Bad Interviewer Spoil the Interview

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Image Source: cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com

Image Source: cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com

First, I want to say I LOVE Piers Morgan on America’s Got Talent and Twitter. His whole “persona” comes across perfectly as a judge and in 140-characters. When I heard he was Larry King’s replacement I harkened back to his appearance on Celebrity Apprentice and thought he would do a great job “handling” the celebrities and wouldn’t be too intimidated to ask the tough questions. I was wrong. Piers doesn’t lack chutzpah, he appears to simply be too narcissistic and has more interest in what he has to say rather than his interviewee.

Piers is a trained reporter and editor. He has the pedigree to replace Larry King; unfortunately he’s just not a good interviewer. Instead of focusing on the interviewee, you can see him anticipating a hole in the conversation so he can make his next comment. Seeing him in action reminded me that the interview can only be as good as the preparation of your interviewee.

Basic Media Interview Tips:

Practice: Successful message development and delivery depends on preparation. Think through how you will respond to tough or hostile questions by developing and practicing clear, honest and appropriate answers.

Conclusions: Prepare and present your conclusion throughout the interview. Just as you wouldn’t bury the lead you can’t “hope” the interviewer will ask you the perfect question.

Avoid Jargon: Instead of using industry jargon speak in simple lay terms.

Key messages: Prepare, understand and practice key messages. Return to key messages as often as possible – Think Bill Clinton not Gary Condit.

Deal with difficult questions: Some questions can’t be given a straight answer, but to avoid the question looks bad too. Bridging and Blocking are very effective assets.

Bridging: Maintain control of the interview with the use of these common bridging phrases –
“Before we leave the subject, let me add that…”
“And the one thing that is important to remember is…”
“While…is important, it is also important to remember…”
“It’s true that…but it is also true that…”

Blocking: Never say “no comment” – it’s an obvious don’t. Instead, simple blocking allows you to focus the conversation. Common blocking phrases:
“I think what you’re really asking is…”
“That’s an interesting question, and to put it in perspective…”
“I don’t have precise details, but what I do know is…”

Never Repeat Negative Questions: Always frame your answer in the positive. Think about sound bites.

Stick to your message: Simple is better. Avoid the expert trap of over-answering. Work on test questions and learn when to stop talking.

Remove distractions: Technology is wonderful, but even the most seasoned interviewee can’t fight the Pavlovian response of the flashing red light or the subtle vibration that a message has arrived to their mobile device.

Relax: Be calm, confident and conversational.

In fairness to Piers, his first guests, Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern, are arguably two of the best interviewers in the industry. They ask questions, some tough and some embarrassing, and get out of the way so people can answer. They have an inherent ability to relate and create a bond with the interviewee. Really great interviewers are few and far between which makes interview preparation an imperative skill for PR pros.

These tips are the basics. The best “tool” in your public relations toolkit is a video camera. Video magnifies the strengths and weaknesses of your interview skills and allows you to fast-track growth and improvement. Do you have any tips and tricks you use for media training?

2010 PR News Media Relations Conference: David Warschawski interviewed by Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PR News Media Relations Conference. And I’m here with David.

David, will you please introduce yourself?

DAVID WARSCHAWSKI: Yes, I’m David Warschawski. I’m CEO of Warschawski. We’re a full service marketing communications firm.

BURKE: David, can you please share the tips with organizations on how to avoid losing money?

WARSCHAWSKI: That’s a great question, just finished talking about it. Let me give you four main tips. The first is, number one, get clarity of what your brand is, what makes you highly unique and relevant for your target audience, and create marketing communications around that. But until you have clarity of that, it’s hard to make sure that you’re using your money wisely.

Secondly, make sure you have clarity of who your target audience is. And not just clarity of your primary, but of your primary, your secondary and your tertiary target audiences. That way you can allocate your spending wisely, making sure that you’re hitting them with your key messages to move them to action so that your brand becomes resonant for them.

Third is make sure you’re not jumping on the bandwagon. Don’t follow the latest and hottest topics. So if social media isn’t right for you, you can’t sustain it or do a great job, as one example, don’t do it.

And last but not least, everyone has a great resource that should be used, and that’s your internal communications team, it’s your internal team in total. Turn them into brand ambassadors for you. Use them and leverage them. Make them the folks who on a day in and day out basis represent your brand in the most positive way. Fantastic four simple steps to make sure you’re spending your money wisely and getting the biggest bang for your buck.

BURKE: Thanks so much. And where can people find you online?

WARSCHAWSKI: Best is go to our website, warschawski.com. I’ll spell it for you. It’s W-A-R-S as in Sam C-H-A-W-S as in Sam K-I-dot-com.

BURKE: Great. Thank you so much.

WARSCHAWSKI: Thank you.

Professional Development Is A “Must” For PR Practitioners

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Brittany James is a recent graduate from Quinnipiac University with a degree in public relations and a minor in marketing. Currently she is interning at Source Communications, a New York-based strategic consulting firm.

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At the end of last month, the BurrellesLuce team invited me to attend the Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations Summit. Being a young PR professional, who had just attended my first PRSA event at the beginning of June, I was eager to partake in the day’s activities. With a lot of great companies being represented at the summit, I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed in this Professional Developmentamazing learning experience.

While there were very informative “Meet the Editors” roundtables, I had the pleasure of listening to four panels that all mirrored the same message throughout regarding growing industry trends. Some of the key messages conveyed were:

  • Keep your skill set up-to-date
  • Participating on the Internet is no longer an option

During the first panel, the skills every public relations professional needs were discussed and writing was stressed to be the biggest skill. Like any PR professional knows, writing is essential to their everyday tasks and the panel talked about how being able to tell stories requires writing skills. These writing skills need to have a visual image and content, which helps to develop the full picture of what is impacting areas.

Moving more towards the social media aspect, during the other three panels I listened to, the need for more incorporation of the Internet into PR was a strong topic. In today’s PR world, there really isn’t an excuse to not be on social media and engaging with your and your clients’ audiences. Steve Momorella from TEKgroup International presented the statistics that:

  • 90 percent of social media users follow/monitor news and information daily
  • 75 percent of social media users visit corporate websites after a story
  • 73 percent of social media users believe social media sources with news is more timely

In the second presentation, Tina Brown from The Daily Beast still thinks that as PR professionals we are still retro and need validation through print or TV. She went on to say how we can help shape the response of stories on the Internet by participating and also assisting to make the story go viral.

By being part of the conversation, we as PR professionals can help to position the story in a positive light. However, if there is no presence, anything can happen. As social media is continuing to grow, Bev Yehuda from Products MultiVu stated that “social media is the start of a transition away from ‘push,’ one-way communications to a world full of interactivity between PR professionals and the media.”

Being a young PR professional, what do you foresee as some future trends in the industry? How are you getting your company and/or clients into social media?