Here’s an excerpt based on Chapter Five of my latest book, Reporters Don’t Hate You: 100+ Amazing Media Relations Strategies, available wherever you prefer to buy your books.
The chapter contains “Hot 100+ Media Tips.” This segment revolves around how vital it is to assess performance after each and every media interview.
- Debrief your performance immediately This pertains to both real-world reporter interviews and those you conduct during practice sessions. Feedback will never be as fresh. Take a cold-eyed look at the key elements: How successful were you at imparting your message? How effective were your nonverbal tools? What worked for you? What can stand an upgrade? Solicit feedback far and wide. You never know who will come up with a previously unmined gem. Ask for candor and emphasize that you are interested in improving, regardless of how you performed.
- Realize that not all feedback is created equal. You will hear things not worth heeding. You need to run it through your own filter to ascertain its value. Two people who must absolutely be a part of this assessment process are your chief communications officer and your communications strategy and training consultant. These experts have the depth of knowledge (or at least they should) capable of offering solid counsel.
- Record all media interviews as they take place. Nothing fancy needed; a small recorder or your mobile device will do the job. The laws for recording telephone interviews vary from state to state, so familiarize yourself with your jurisdiction’s edicts. Note well that this also applies to video interviews over services like Skype and Zoom. Many reporters routinely record their exchanges. You have the same right. This serves a couple of purposes. First, it leaves you with a record of the exchange. Should any disputed quotes arise, you’ll have proof of exactly what was said. In addition, it can be a great means of advancing your sustained professional development. Listen back to the recording immediately afterward and assess the positives and negatives. Go back to it every now and then and compare it with later interviews to gauge how you are progressing as a media source. As always, shine a light on those positives in future interviews, and work to improve the shortfalls over the long run.
- Arrange for a colleague or family member to capture your radio or TV broadcast. That provides you with a copy for your archives. Most televised interviews will be available online. Rare is the TV station or network that does not do so. Still, it is a good idea to make your own recording just in case. If you are unable to record it yourself, ask the producer or reporter when they expect to air it and post it on their website. They may not know yet, but it can’t hurt to ask. These archives are among the best professional development tools you have.
- Don’t pester a journalist by asking when your piece will appear in print or on the air. As noted above, sometimes they just don’t know. Or, if they think they do, they may find the story bumped for more urgent news. Editors, not individual reporters, control the news flow. It is fine to ask once at the conclusion of your interview, but don’t inundate them with daily calls or emails checking on the status. You will be labeled a pest and the odds of them contacting you for comment in the future will dwindle.
- Contact the reporter directly if you feel a clarification, correction, or retraction is necessary. If they made a mistake, you owe them the chance to rectify matters. You will find the difference among those three levels in Chapter Six’s Reporter’s Glossary.
- Approach the editor for a correction only if you gain no satisfaction from the reporter. And give the latter the courtesy of telling them that you plan to get in touch with their boss. There are two reasons for this. First, it is common civility. Second, it can smooth your future relationship with the newsperson. You may need them – and they may need you – down the road, so don’t burn that bridge. If you fail to get your desired response from the editor, pat yourself on the back for fighting the good fight, and acknowledge the fact that they are the ones who hold the controls. Make your best case. Don’t make any needless enemies. Move on to your next campaign.
Order your copy of Reporters Don’t Hate You: 100+ Amazing Media Relations Strategies, available widely wherever books are sold.