Media Tips: Stay On Message

Congratulations, you have another media interview! Now let me ask you how did your last interview turn out? Did you get your point across or did the story seem to take a different turn from where you thought it should go? The point here is that if you don’t stay on message, it is hard for a reporter to understand what the most important thing is you are saying!

Before you ever meet with the reporter, you need to stop and think for a few minutes about what your main message is during the interview. Seriously, what is the essential idea that the reporter needs to understand when they walk out to file their story? Now write it down. Practice saying your message, first in your head and then out loud.

Now do it again if you have a second or third message, but remember, depending on the type of interview, if you get excited about the second most important message, the first and third messages will be lost on the reporter!

Let’s have some fun with a practice interview. You can do this with your topic as well. I will ask some questions and you fill in your answers and see how you did.

Practice Interview

Hi, I’m Brian with Life Needs No Red Lights.

Can you tell me about your new service?

Yes, Brian, thanks for asking. I am trying to convince people that while being interviewed, they must stay on message. That means they have to pick their top messages and learn to deliver them, no matter what questions are being asked. The key is that after determining what the main message is, they need to write it down and then practice delivering the message. After practicing, they are more likely to answer a question, any question on message and helping to ensure that the story moves the direction that they anticipate.

Great, so who is the service for?

I am trying to help people deliver their messages while doing a media interview, on a sales call, during a presentation or anyone that has to present to a Board of Directors or other relevant groups. The key here again is to remember that anyone who is trying to deliver a message needs to write down their central message, practice it and then see if they are getting the results they anticipate.

So, what types of problems do people run into?

People have a hard time staying on message. They get excited about the squirrel in the tree across the street while they are talking and then start talking about the cute dog in the movie UP. When that happens, no matter how well-rehearsed the person is, the key messages delivered up to and immediately after that point have been lost. You got them excited about something that is not important with regards to the purpose of the interview or meeting. The biggest thing people have to remember is to develop a key or most important message, write it down, practice delivery it, and then checking to see if they got the results they wanted.

Understood! Why did you get into the public relations business?

I enjoy working with people and helping them understand how to tell their stories. Case in point, I want people to realize that when doing an interview, they need to think about and write down their most important message, practice it and then see if the results matched their efforts. I enjoy working with the media so that they, too, can understand the stories my clients have to share and understand what the most critical piece of information is at the end of the interview.

I noticed that you changed the chairs in your office since I was last here, how do you like the change?

I’m glad you noticed the chairs, they are new, but to be honest, its what’s done in those chairs that are far more important. I work with my clients right here in this office, helping them understand how to stay on message, how to bridge from one topic to the next so that they can deliver their most important news during their interview. They must have a primary message before they start, write it down and practice it to have a chance at directing the conversation in the way that they want it to go.

Now it’s your turn. What is your key message and how will you ensure that it always makes its way into your story?

By Brian Murnahan

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