Here are the Seven Cardinal Rules to remember:
- Create YOUR STORY rather than letting the media develop their own. Remember the media is looking for a STORY. A story means there is an interesting angle that the viewer will be intrigued with. If you don’t provide that angle they will try to capture it with editing and trapping questions. You need to know BEFORE you meet with the media what the STORY is that you want them to share. Think from THEIR perspective not yours. If you only defend what happened I guarantee they will try to put you in a more negative light.
- Watch telltale nervous or combative body language signs such as fidgeting, shifting feet, and breaking eye contact. These are all signs that on TV appear to the viewer that you are HIDING something. Since body language is tied to your thoughts anything you are thinking WILL come out in your body language. This is why you cannot be thinking about defending what happened or else your body language will be nervous or combative.
- Avoid all “yes” or “no” answers. Why? Because your answer can be edited down to that simple word and the rest of your explanation left out. Always focus your answer so it can NOT be edited down.
- Speak in terms of sound bites. Reporters are looking for short phrases and succinct messaging. Therefore, if your answer is too longwinded they will opt to just NOT use it as it is too hard to edit it down. Try to give quick concise answers.
- Avoid the words “but” or “however” as they can edit out what you say before or after that message and completely turn around what you were saying.
- Use proactive body language that shows confidence and leadership. This includes looking directly at the viewer (that would be the camera), have your feet firmly planted about shoulder width apart, relax your shoulders, keep your hands up by your waist or completely down at your sides, and have your weight balanced slightly more on one hip (this will give a relaxed pose).
- Talk to the reporter the way you would convincingly talk to a good friend over a cup of coffee. Keep it professional but relaxed. Don’t try to impress them. Instead make sure you know in your head and heart the story you wish to deliver. Then you can take each question the reporter asks you and ALIGN it with the STORY you are trying to deliver so you can put the positive spin on it.
Remember the media is looking for a story so instead of making the media SEARCH for a story deliver it confidently to them!
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