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Radio Interviews Via Phone

By Doug Weller

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Don’t let mobile phone issues negatively impact your radio interviews.

Who doesn’t have a mobile phone these days?

Most of us can’t live without them – we feel like we’ve lost a limb if we are without a mobile phone for even a short time.

They’re as beneficial and convenient as they are intrusive.

Smart phones have definitely made it easier to reach our media audiences in record time.

Journalists and ‘Citizen journalists’ now use mobile phones to film and live stream dramatic events as they unfold. The audience experiences the news in real time. It really is incredible!

Poor quality news footage filmed on mobile phones has become acceptable. Now, poor quality footage is better than nothing – if it’s dramatic.

This isn’t the case with radio interviews.

Radio interviews obviously rely on sound only.

If the sound quality is poor, the message is diluted or even lost.

Why spokespeople should avoid mobile phones for radio interviews

1. Poor reception / Call dropouts

For all the advances in technology, many mobile phone connections are still pretty wobbly.

You don’t want to risk losing a connection in the middle of an interview.

Some people even engage in radio interviews using a mobile phone whilst driving a vehicle, increasing the call drop-out risk – crazy!

If you must use a mobile phone for your radio interview make sure you’re settled in a quiet stationary space.

2. Poor sound quality

Your audience shouldn’t need to work hard just to hear you on the radio.

Conducting a radio interview using your mobile speaker function can make it almost impossible to understand you.

The speaker phone can pick up surrounding noise that will compete with what you’re saying and distract listeners.

As a listener, I’ve switched off radio interviews being conducted using a mobile phone because the sound quality was so bad.

3. Battery issues

You’d think it would be a given that you would have your mobile phone fully charged and ready for your radio interview.

But many people get nervous at the thought of doing radio interviews and it’s easy to just focus on performance and forget to charge your phone.

Imagine your phone battery dying in the middle of your interview. It’s happened.

Again, avoid mobile phones for radio interviews.

If you don’t have a choice, make sure your phone is fully charged.

4. Call waiting

Beep…beep…beep…

In the middle of your interview the call waiting alert can start as a new call comes in.

This is extremely distracting for you, the radio interviewer and the audience.

Straight away your message loses its impact as the call waiting alert becomes the focus.

If you must use your mobile for a radio interview, turn the call waiting function off before you start.

This goes for landlines too.

5. Radio studios and landlines are best

If you’re conducting a radio interview, do everything you can to get to a landline – going into the studio is even better.

If your interview has value for you it’s worth doing well.

Don’t let mobile phone issues trash your media opportunity.

The vast majority of the time, a landline conversation is going to be much better quality.

Listeners will be able to clearly hear what you’ve got to say and absorb everything without battling bad mobile reception.

If possible, go into a radio studio. The sound quality will be perfect and you’re able to build rapport with the announcer.

You’ll probably be given more interview time too.

Remember

Always remember the value for you in conducting radio interviews.

Ensure it’s a quality job to maximise the value to you.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Interview Nerves

Are journalists out to get you?

Interview NervesBy Doug Weller

Are journalists out to get you? In my humble opinion, no.

Do some journalists and commentators come with agendas? The answer is probably yes.

Don’t forget that journalists are human beings and have personal opinions on a range of issues. But the vast majority of journalists are simply trying to pull together a story and get it finished by their deadline.

I’ve spoken to many people over the years who think all journalists want to catch them out.

Going into an interview and believing a journalist is going to dud you is a very negative head space. That will work against you in the media process because you will spend your entire time in ‘survival mode’, rather than concentrating on delivering a concise, clear and professional message.

Even if a journalist has a preconceived view before they speak to you, your definite and confident approach can often turn this around.

There are lots of different media formats – and some journalists and commentators use drama to try to boost ratings.  Radio ‘shock jocks’ are an example of this. But they have a transparent style so you should know what to expect.

Understanding the program’s format and interviewer’s style prior to conducting the interview is extremely important. Preparation is the key. Go in with your eyes wide open.

It’s up to you to develop and deliver messages that make your point.

Unfortunately there is a long line of ‘train wreck interviews’. An example is then rookie Senator, Ricky Muir’s interview with veteran journalist, Mike Willisee. Muir appeared unprepared and ill-equipped to handle this media interview.

In all the years I have covered stories for various news organisations, I never once left the office with the intention of stitching somebody up or pushing my own barrow.

I simply wanted to get a clear understanding of the issues and report them in a fair and balanced way. This meant I relied on my own research and the information I received before and during interviews from interviewees.

What do journalists want? They want to understand the issue completely and be able to conduct a sensible interview that works for them.

One of the biggest pitfalls when interacting with journalists is not being clear about your issue, or your messages.

When you speak to journalists they are generally going to quote you. If you haven’t prepared adequately you can get caught out.

Make sure you have your facts straight. Know why you are doing the interview. What’s the point? Where’s the value?

Sure, there may be some who don’t follow the rule book. But I truly believe that most reporters are fair and take their role seriously. They want to get it right.

Here are my major points for achieving a positive media outcome no matter what the issue:

• Interact with the journalist in a clear and positive way
• Ensure the journalist has all the facts but don’t overload them with material
• Be very clear about the messages you wish to deliver
• Deliver them in a clear, jargon free, credible way
• When the journalist hangs up the phone or walks out the door, make sure they are very clear about the facts of the issue and your messages

Abbott's Background Mishap

This Photo Opportunity Should Have Been Rejected

By Corporate Media Services Abbott's Background Mishap

Politicians are a mobile lot, looking for a photo opportunity at every turn.

A media pack chasing you around a shopping centre might seem annoying to most of us but politicians generally love that sort of publicity.

In the world of politics photo opportunities are crucial.

The unfortunate downside is that journalists, camera people and photographers get bored.

For them it’s just another shopping centre, another walk about, another photo op.  So they’re always looking for something a little bit different.

At the same time, politician’s media teams are always on the lookout for danger.

The big danger that everyone tries to avoid is a political photo in front of an ‘exit’ sign.

But let’s be fair dinkum about this, you can’t avoid every potential problem –  sometimes they just slip through.

A photo of Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, standing in front of the discount store ‘The Reject Shop’, is a perfect example of a politician being in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

Really, it could be argued that a photo like this is not in the public interest or anybody’s interest. Why would you publish it? Who cares?

But if an opportunity like this presents itself, there’s not a photographer or camera person who is going to knock it back. Especially when the debate about rejecting Mr Abbott seems endless.

If you’re outside the world of politics, situations like this one probably won’t be a major concern for you. But it’s an important reminder to be in control of your background if you’re appearing in the media.

Photographers and camera people generally aren’t trying to stitch you up visually but they are under a lot of pressure to deliver interesting photos and vision.

So before you are photographed or filmed, look over your shoulder and make sure you’re happy with the background.

If there is anything about the background that you’re not happy with, speak up.

Simply tell them that this isn’t working for you and then suggest a different location.

You don’t want the photo or vision to take away from your message – you certainly don’t want to send the wrong message.

Photo opportunities are great but be aware of what’s in the background.

 

Ricky Muir struggles

Ricky Muir Fights Back

Ricky Muir struggles
By Doug Weller – Corporate Media Services

Call me unusual if you like but I find politics really interesting.

I started covering politics when I was a cub reporter and I’ve been following politics ever since.

So forgive me for having another chop at the Ricky Muir/Mike Willesee interview, but the debate which has followed the airing of that exchange is an interesting lesson on dealing with media interactions and interviews.

Since my last blog on the topic, Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator, Ricky Muir, has come out fighting over his interview with Mike Willesee on Channel Seven’s ‘Sunday Night’ program.

In the interview Ricky Muir had trouble answering questions and required breaks to regain his composure and consult his advisors.

Mr Muir has now reportedly described the interview and his treatment as unethical.

Muir’s political advisor, former NSW independent MP and qualified media defamation lawyer, Peter Breen, wanted to lodge a formal complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority over Mr Muir’s treatment. Muir blocked that move saying “… I can either let this get me down or use it as initiative to get better.”

Mr Breen alleged that Channel Seven’s handling of the interview was unfair and allowed Mr Muir to become the focus of ridicule and contempt – “It contained the imputation that he wasn’t up to holding public office because he wasn’t a good media performer”, said Breen.

If you haven’t seen the interview make sure you find time to view it at least 2 or 3 times.

If you’re not involved in the media you might initially think that the interview is unfair or unethical.

But to describe the interview in that way is absolutely ridiculous.

Why?

If you’re going to interact with the media and put yourself forward to do media interviews, you need to have a basic understanding of the role of the free media in a democratic society.

In a nutshell, the role of free media is to observe and report.

You may think some media outlets do that badly but that’s another discussion.

Be very clear about this, journalists who work in mainstream media are not public relations or marketing practitioners. Nor are they involved in advertising -they are journalists.

It’s crucial that you understand that point.

Journalists have access to a wide range of powerful and influential people, including politicians. The vast majority of the population will never have access to these people.

So it’s up to journalists to interview these powerful people and deliver the results of those interviews to the public.

Ricky Muir is in an incredibly powerful position. He’s been elected to the Australian Senate.

He is now voting on laws which will have an impact on every Australian citizen and in some cases, citizens of other nations.

He is accountable to the Australian public.

The questions that Mike Willesee asked Ricky Muir were totally appropriate for someone in Muir’s position.

The interview was not a brash, hard hitting, ‘shock-jock’ style interview; Willesee was not aggressive, or pushy.

Experienced journalist and Executive Producer of Channel Seven’s 7 ‘Sunday Night’ program, Mark Llewellyn, has said that Mike Willesee was actually very kind to Ricky Muir.

Llewellyn is right. The questions were asked in a respectful and even gentle way.

In an interview with Crikey Llewellyn also said that Mr Muir’s assumption that parts of the interview would not get used were unfounded and there had been no deal for Mr Muir to go ‘off the record’.

“When did that kind of cosy deal become journalism — ‘the wink, wink, nudge, nudge, I’ll look after you if it all becomes a little too hard, possum’? What, by the way, are the ethics of censoring interviews and depriving audiences of the complete story? To in effect be part of that cosy club that shields politicians and keeps everyday Australians in the dark.” Llewellyn said.

When Ricky Muir had trouble answering the questions and took a break, this was broadcast as it should have been.

For Mike Willesee or anyone else involved in that interview to edit out any of that material in order to make Ricky Muir look better than he actually was would have been a disservice to the Australian people.

It was up to Ricky Muir and his advisors to ensure that he was adequately prepared before the interview.

As I said in my last blog on this issue, Ricky Muir should never have started his media exposure in a high profile television interview of this type.

He wasn’t ready for the questions and he wasn’t ready for the lights and cameras of a broadcast interview environment.

What Mike Willesee did was ask the questions and show the responses.

Remember:

  •  Make sure that you’re prepared for any questions that may be asked of you in an interview, especially the obvious questions.
  •  If you’re not ready for a daunting media environment such as an intimidating studio style TV interview, don’t do it.
  •  If you ever stuff up in a media interview don’t kid yourself that the interviewer was unethical. Look at your performance and learn from any mistakes. Interesting to note that’s what Ricky Muir said he will do, so good on him for that.

Further Information

Mike Willesee Interview Was Unethical: Ricky Muir

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you would like further information about dealing with the media contact Corporate Media Services for more information or training.

Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 9131300 737 913

Interview Nerves

Three Major Myths of Media Training

Three Major Myths of Media TrainingFirst Published: 08/07/10
Last Update: 09/07/12
Author: Doug Weller
Words: 1,760

Media Training-Media Training-Media Training. Why is there such a thing as media training? Why do we conduct Media Training Programs and Media Training Courses? A few decades ago media training did not exist. Media training has only been around, in a formal sense, since the 1970’s. Let me speak to you about the three main myths in regards to media training.

The First Myth: This Company seems professional so it must be Okay.

There are a lot of media training organisations throughout Australia and the South Pacific. Some media training organisations are good; others not so good. How do you pick a legitimate media training organisation?

I’ve been saying for some time that there is a lot of ‘fluff and bubble’ involved in the media training industry. There are many people out there conducting media training who don’t know a great deal about the media.

The best way to work out if a media training organisation is reputable is to choose a journalism-based media training organisation. What I mean by that is; choose a media training company which is owned and operated by a journalist.

Let me speak about Corporate Media Services – our organisation. I am the owner and director of Corporate Media Services. My history in journalism spans 30 years, it covers all mediums and I have worked as a journalist both in Australia and overseas. I’ve worked in roles ranging from an on-the-road reporter, to Chief of Staff, and have fronted radio and television programs.

So people should choose a media training organisation which has a journalist as the Director or operator. Many media training organisations are owned and operated by people who have had no journalism experience.

Obviously, if you are going to contract somebody to do media training for you, you should be choosing somebody who has a media/journalism background. But how can you be sure that the media training organisation you are contracting has the qualifications it claims to have?

The internet is an amazing and useful tool, it allows us to check things quickly and in many cases, thoroughly. Don’t just take the word of any media training organisation in terms of the background of the trainers and the operators, check it on the internet.

For instance, with our company, Corporate Media Services, if anybody wanted to check my background, I would suggest they do a google search on ‘Doug Weller’ and ‘journalism’ and see what comes up. If they wanted to check my credentials in terms of being a University Lecturer, google ‘Doug Weller RMIT University’ and see what comes up.

So you should not just take the word of the media training organisations in terms of the background of the trainers or the operators of that organisation. You also need to thoroughly check that the media training organisation you are contracting has people at the top with a substantial media/journalism background.

The second myth: The use of studios for media training.

Some organisations claim to have radio and television studios where their media training will be conducted. There are two major myths in this area: the first is that very rarely are these ‘so called’ TV and radio studios really studios, they are ‘mock ups’ to look like studios. To the untrained eye, this may look very impressive, however in reality, these ‘so-called’ studios are not really studios.

Secondly and more importantly, it can in fact be counter-productive to conduct media training in a radio or TV studio for most people. For instance, unless you are the Prime Minister, the Premier, the head of a major organisation, or somebody like the Police Commissioner, it is highly unlikely you will be asked to do a media interview in a radio or TV studio. The vast majority of interviews that are conducted around Australia and indeed around the world, are conducted with newspaper journalists over the telephone. After that, the majority of interviews are conducted with radio journalists, again over the telephone. The only person sitting in a studio during those radio interviews will be the journalist.

If trainees do their media training in ‘so called’ radio or television studios, it can be counter-productive because the training is being conducted in an unrealistic environment. If people are to undergo media training, they need to undergo that media training in environments that are as close to ‘real life’ as possible. That generally means your office environment because that is where you are likely to do most interviews. That is why we conduct most of our training at the client’s premises.

If you are likely to be doing radio interviews over the telephone from an office, your media training should be conducted in an office environment. If you are likely to be doing television interviews outside, the media training should be conducted outside with a media industry standard television camera. If you are likely to be doing interviews over the phone with newspaper journalists in an office environment, then that is the environment in which the training should be conducted.

In my view, to conduct media training in a ‘so-called’ radio or television studio where the trainee is unlikely to be interviewed, is counter-productive.

Some of our clients, due to their position, may require the media training to be conducted in a studio. When this is the case, we do deliver the training in a state-of-the-art broadcast studio.

The third myth: The media trainer told me it was true, so it must be true.

Media training falls into basically two types; there is ‘old style’ media training and there is ‘new style’ media training. The media is changing constantly. For instance the way news is delivered is changing and the way interviews are conducted is changing. What is expected of people in terms of those interviews is also changing.

The way we did a radio interview ten years ago compared to the way we do it now is totally different.  If people are being taught an old style of media training, it will be detrimental in terms of their media performance. For instance people were once told to work out their key messages to avoid questions, and simply repeat their key points no matter what the journalist asks. That is now counter-productive. In fact it is quite damaging in terms of the media message delivery process.

The media industry and the community have moved forward a great deal in the past few years in terms of what they view as acceptable and not acceptable in terms of a media performance. If media trainers are delivering ‘old style’ media programs, it will be detrimental to the trainee.

To avoid these myths within the media training industry you should:

1. Check the credentials of the owner and/or operator of the media training organisation that you are contracting to do your media training.

2. If you are being told that your media training will be conducted in a TV or radio studio, check the studio to ensure that it is a broadcast quality studio. More importantly, ask why the media training is being conducted in a studio if the majority of your interviews are going to occur in an office environment or outside.

3. Ask the media trainers what sort of training they deliver. Ask them about the changes that have occurred in the media industry in the last several years, especially in terms of interviewing and media-message delivery.

It is essential when you are getting media training that you get the correct type of media training. It needs to be conducted by people with solid credentials and in an environment which is suitable.

Make an enquiry now or call us on 1300 737 913 or +61 412 298 905

Communicating with the media if you are in business

Communicating With The Media If You Are In Business

First Published: 01/07/10
Last Update: 07/09/12
Author: Doug Weller
Words: 1,423

Today we are going to talk about the media and media training. I’ve been involved with the media industry for more than 30 years. I’ve worked in all areas of the media – print, radio, television and public relations, both in Australia and overseas. But let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about you.

You may not realise it, but you are consumers of news. If you didn’t consume media products, read, listen or watch media publications or programs, those media products would not exist. As much as people complain about the media, they constantly consume media products – everyday. The media is a business: print, radio, television and online. It is a very competitive business. It can be beneficial or disruptive, but never forget, it is a business.

Do we in the media deliver what people want, or what we think they want? It is a never-ending argument. Make no mistake, the media is a business and yes, it is interested in the ‘wow’ factor. That is what sells. Let’s get straight on to speaking about the journalists. If you want to know the main things driving journalists, it is ambition and deadlines. There is nothing wrong with ambition.

Regarding deadlines, let me make this clear, there is no point in a journalist producing a story if he or she can’t meet the deadline. You don’t know what a deadline is until you’ve been a journo and faced a media deadline. Let me explain it this way. The ABC TV News will go to air across Eastern Australia tonight at 7pm. It won’t go to air at three minutes past, or five minutes past. The newsreader will not come on and say “Good evening and welcome to ABC TV News. Can I tell you we have had one mother of a day! We’ve had people off sick, equipment breakdowns, it’s been murder but just amuse yourselves for the next five minutes, we should be ready by then”.

Do you go to the newsagent for them to say “Sorry, we couldn’t get it together so there won’t be a newspaper today, but there will be two newspapers tomorrow?” The media industry is an incredibly competitive industry. That is why we do media training, so people know how to communicate with the media industry – know what drives journalists. You need to know what to do when faced with a difficult situation or a crisis when you’ve got this incredibly powerful thing, the media, about to confront you – there are these journalists coming to you to get information.

Sometimes you will want to deliver the story to them and sometimes you won’t. People often say to me “I hate the media and I hate those journalists, they’re an absolute disgrace and I won’t communicate with them!” But what if you have a crisis? What if four people in your organisation are badly injured today and the media is gathering downstairs. What will you do? You’ve got a disaster, perhaps people are killed, what would you do?

The research tells us you’ve got between 8 and 15 minutes to get organised and start delivering information to the media. It is too late then to conduct media training. The media training needs to be conducted before such an awful event.

You can’t do media training on the run. Media training is a very focused process. You also need to have a communication strategy in place, and the presentation skills and communication skills to help you speak to the media and the public in such a crisis. Are you or your media spokesperson able to handle the situation?

A lot of people ‘freak out’ when they see a journalist. Don’t ‘freak out’. You need to think about how we, the journalists, operate as human beings under pressure. You’ve had this dreadful thing happen. It is emotionally disturbing, people are very upset. All of a sudden, the media is downstairs.

How do people who have not participated in media training react? Lock the gates. Lock the doors. Get security. This happens over and over in a crisis. Yet, with competent public speaking skills and a sound communication strategy, your organisation can activate an effective crisis plan to help deal with the media.

What happens when people are dealing with the media is that they forget about the most important thing, the public – the consumers of news. The Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, during and after September 11, came to his media conferences with all the city chiefs behind him, and he went through a very simple process that changed crisis communication strategies across the world. He said “this is what we know, this is what we don’t know, this is what we are doing, this is what we want you to do” – he took the community with him.

We teach our trainees in media training that there are certain things you can control when dealing with the media, whether it’s a good news story or a crisis. These things are crucial to you being able to get your media message across. This is where your public speaking and communication skills are vital. If things get aggressive, don’t bite! What we are talking about here is being completely and totally in control of the situation by having good communication skills to assist your media communications and public speaking process. As soon as you lose control with any media you can’t get it back.

You need to think about what message the consumers of news are getting when they watch, hear, or read about out of control media interviews. This is the process we discuss in our media training programs. By the way, you need to be very careful with media training. There are old style media training programs and there are new style media training programs.

The media is constantly changing so media training programs and courses also need to change with the times. I am pleased to say Corporate Media Services media training programs are constantly updated to ensure we are giving our media training participants the latest in media and media trends.

The media industry is very, very competitive. Journalism is about pushing and meeting deadlines and yes, looking for the ‘wow’ factor, looking for a good story. Journalists will come to you and you must ensure you know how you get something out of this thing called “the media”. What will you deliver physically and verbally? How well honed are your presentation skills and communication skills? Remember, if you don’t take control of a crisis situation, what will the fall-out be from a poorly thought-out communication strategy?

Perhaps you will only need to speak to the media about good issues – let’s hope so. Even then, you need to ensure you communicate your media message effectively.

Finally, how many languages do you speak? When someone is being interviewed and they are speaking a language that is too complicated for people to understand, the audience switches off. All the audience has to do is use their remote control if it is television they are watching and go ‘click’.

So as an interviewee, you need to think about your audience and think about your objective. Who is the audience and what is the objective, because if you miss these, you can forget about it. Your communication skills need to target your audience and influence their understanding of events. It is no good having a great public relations department and excellent media strategy if you can’t communicate your message in a media interview. Before you go into any media interview situation, you need to do your preparation.

So remember, many of the journalists you will come into contact with live in a very pressured world. Try to work with journalists but make sure you know what you are going to say. Practise your communication skills and presentation skills and quickly work out your key points. Be confident and natural and remain calm at all times. In the end, it is what you want to get out of the media process that matters. Never forget this – out of the billions of media interviews that have been conducted around the world, not one single person has ever got into strife because of the question, it has always been because of the response. It is how you respond both physically and verbally in any given media situation and how you handle your public speaking, presentation skills and communication skills, that will have the biggest impact on the outcome.

Make an enquiry now or call us on 1300 737 913 or +61 412 298 905

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