Posts Tagged ‘sound bites’

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?

BurrellesLuce Newsletter: 10 Tips for Successful Sound Bites

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Successful Sound BitesSound bites, those little nuggets of public relations goodness meant to whet the appetites of news outlets and their audiences, are vital to communications clarity. Yet, they can be difficult to master. Sure, there are lots of printed and digital quotations floating around (think 140 characters as the ultimate sound bite). But how many of them are juicy morsels with media appeal and potential staying power?

To assist you in the selection process, we have compiled a list of 10 tips aimed at ensuring that your spokesperson’s sound bites stand out from the rest (for all the right reasons) and leave the media and viewers wanting more.

Read more of this month’s newsletter in the BurellesLuce Resource Center to learn 10 ways to help your sound bites make a positive impression.

Technology Might Be Changing, but Media Relations Best Practices Still Apply

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

bullhornillustration_3418213772_f18071b855_o.gifAs we watch the Internet’s evolution, the introduction of mobile news, and the growth of social media, we tend to think that media relations is also changing. Not really. True, communications technology is changing, but media relations itself remains essentially the same. 

We already know the media relations basics, right? 

  1. Do your homework and research.
  2. Think like a journalist.
  3. Write a catchy headline or subject line.
  4. Know who you are pitching. 
  5. Use the K.I.S.S. method – keep it short and simple.
  6. Be honest.
  7. Know your story and why it’s newsworthy. 

Most importantly, in the words of Jon Greer, “If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about PR, it would be this: to make all press releases and PR pronouncements about the interests of readers, users and editors, not about the organization issuing the press release.”

What is changing is how we get this information in the hands of the media and the format. (Reminiscing break: remember when you used to stand at the copy machine and spent hours stuffing physical press kits with printed releases, photos with caption stickers, and any other collateral you could think of?  I sure do!) 

Now, all press releases need to be multimedia. Print publications may use a video for their website. Radio and TV stations may not only use the audio or video sound bites, but also a printed story for their website. 

Sternal Communications Understanding Marketing site recently published a PR Checklist for Media Relations to help you ensure your story is strong enough to make it through the newsroom clutter. 

What are you doing differently these days to make sure your media relations program is successful?

“Human Ritalin” As The Antidote For The Micro Script

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Yesterday, I attended the annual information summit of the content division of the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA) of which BurrellesLuce is a member. Mark Walsh, CEO of GeniusRocket and formerly the first chief technology officer (CTO) of the Democratic National Party used the term “human Ritalin” to describe … Well, I will get to that in just a moment –

In his presentation, Mark spoke about micro scripts. Although this may be tough on the ego, the majority of us fall in the middle of the bell curve of life and are, thus, only average. And as average folks we don’t deal well with huge amounts of written data. Enter in the sound bite – a small snippet of auditory information – which if institutionalized becomes the micro script.

To understand Mark’s point, it might be helpful to think about these phrases: “lipstick (on a pig),” “nowhere (as in bridge to),” “maverick,” and “change.” Chances are they didn’t mean much prior to the presidential campaign. But now, us average people around the water cooler can use them and sound smart.

Although sometimes in accurate, this is, of course the stuff that makes good branding. Case in point: we all know Al Gore “invented the internet.” Even though he never said this, even he references that particular “micro script” now. The very nature of the micro script transforms it into an accepted fact that needs no explanation. As such, we must find shorter and shorter ways to express core features and mimic what the customers think of themselves if we are to brand ourselves effectively.

(By the way, Mark slipped that Bill Schley who, along with Carl Nichols, brought us “Why Johnny can’t brand” has a book coming out with this theme in a couple of months.)

But as this phenom plays out, we start to miss the point about using what customers think of themselves. Instead we move to what we think they think. Than the annoying idiosyncrasies of the digital interactions start to grow into full-fledged indigestion. The conversations based on micro scripts spread in nano seconds. God help someone who wants to dialogue on a topic cause there isn’t any there, just the sound bite. This fragment is packaged and on the virtual PA system which drowns out all chance for interaction. So now us average people are left to our own interpretations mostly in a vacuum … a little scary.

So, about that Ritalin. Since Washington, DC is the ultimate “evidence free” zone, our hope, according to Mark Walsh, is our new president’s penchant for slowing down the conversation and getting scholarship and experience a seat at the table. So, President Obama is Walsh’s “human Ritalin” for the downside of the micro script culture.