MEDIA TRAINING 101: #LIKEABOSS
One bobbled media interview can cause permanent damage to your reputation. But there’s an easy fix to make sure that doesn’t happen: practice and preparation.
In a livestream Axios interview, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg flawlessly handles every fiery topic thrown her way from alleged election interference to the company’s role in mass media consumption. Sandberg remains poised, confident and commanding. She clearly knows how to handle herself under pressure. That’s not luck. It’s media training.
Whether dealing with crisis situations, media interviews or Q&A sessions, media training provides the necessary tools to navigate the questions no one wants to be asked. Here are four MUSTS to remember when gearing up for an interview.
THINK LIKE A JOURNALIST
A good reporter is always looking for an angle. You have to do the same. Look beyond the softballs and prepare for the potential negative questions. When caught off guard, it’s nearly impossible to deliver on-message remarks with clarity and confidence. Think like a journalist, then force yourself to practice responding to the questions that make you uncomfortable. Remember, the only way to get comfortable is to work through discomfort. Avoidance is a failing strategy.
KNOW YOUR MESSAGE
Sandberg knew what message she wanted to convey throughout her interview, effectively controlling the conversation regardless of the repeated, heated questions. Lay out your company’s values, mission and goals then use this as a foundation for responding to questions. Sandberg repeatedly notes Facebook’s role in helping people express themselves openly and freely. She speaks to this while also appropriately taking responsibility for fake accounts.
Just because you are asked, doesn’t mean you have to answer. But that doesn’t mean you can simply say “no comment” and end up looking good. Be prepared to redirect the conversation. Try responding with “What I can tell you is…” or “Here is what happened…” then provide details and circle back to your core message.
STAND YOUR GROUND
Twenty minutes into the live interview, Sandberg is asked “Why shouldn’t Facebook be regulated like a media company?” She begins to answer but the interviewer interrupts. Sandberg holds up her hand saying, “Let me finish.” When interrupted with another question, she clarifies that she will answer them both, but each separately. She once again takes control and retains an authoritative voice.
Media training is a must. Take the time and make the investment. Really. You can thank us later.