Stop fluffing about!

We live in a savvy snappy hi-tech world moving faster than a speeding bullet.

Millennials know automatically when they are being snowed.

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It’s become clear that the public – the very public you address – expect and want to be told the way it is.

They don’t expect people to spin a line or outright lie to them – though all too often that’s what they get.

So … if you’re out there pushing an important message for the public to take notice of … STOP fluffing about.

Tell it the way it is – and speak your truth. The audience will appreciate you all the more.

We ALL know when someone’s spinning a line … so don’t.

We ALL know the obvious sound of insincerity. So be sincere.

We ALL know the clear sound of a cover up – so get to the point …and tell your truth.

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Prepare your messages carefully. Take the time to see how they sound.

Will they convey what you are really trying to say?

Is it in plain speak? Can ANYONE understand your key points?

Do they sound sincere?

Companies who get to the point and communicate in a clean reasoned manner are always going to be listened to more.

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Ross Woodward runs Media Key – a successful Australian PR company with over 25 years direct experience with just about every type of media.

 

Know Your Product

ANY successful media encounter needs simple and critical ingredients.

Insight, knowledge and examples.

KNOW your product. Know why you are there and WHAT you are selling.

There’s really nothing the matter with “selling”. It’s what we all do during any PR campaign. PR Companies in Melbourne and across the nation know this all too well.

We are selling good or complex news … and informing the audience.

Too many people – in my view – don’t demonstrate passion and enthusiasm when doing interviews. I can never understand why.

We are all inspired by people of passion. People with drive. Just take a moment and think about some of the best communicators you know. People you love to watch, read or listen to.

They are always insightful and always informative… and always driven by enthusiasm.

Right now Sam De Brito of Fairfax is one of Media Key’s favourite writers. He has heart, soul and a desire to make people think more about the big issues. He’s a deep and passionate soul who obviously cares about his family. If you don’t read his work start today – he is AMAZING.

You can’t go past people like David Attenborough for his boundless love of nature and the natural world.

WHY do we love him? He has a great charm – a boyish enthusiasm to sell messages.

This brings me back to interviews.

Always remember chances are you will often know more than the media about your given topic. They look to you to help educate and inform the audience.

As the Saints once said, Know your product.Know what you want to say and how you’re going to spell it out.

As a leading Public Relations Agency in Australia we always highlight to clients preparation is everything.

Have at least six key points you plan to use in any interview.And say them! Don’t wait to be asked. It’s a common mistake.

Media will always – rightfully so – have their own agenda or questions.That’s to be expected.If you follow their lead that’s what you will be doing.Following.Diligently.Don’t follow!Lead.

Have clear examples that back up and illustrate your points. Use evidence constantly to make your case. Stick to your guns – and remember in any interview it’s up to you to take a lead… otherwise you are indeed following.

Remember too media – as a general rule – are NOT out to target you and bring you crashing down. Too many people believe all media want is negativity and a good battle. It ain’t the case. Really. Media are out to entertain, inform and communicate.

They then expect you to just that. Be interesting – and anecdotal. Have plenty of passion – and drive to make your points. Too many people simply flatline in interviews. They sound dull and passionless. If you don’t get excited about your messages and reasons for being there, you can hardly expect the audience to “feel the love”.

Ask yourself this. When was the last time somebody really amazed you when they were interviewed? What qualities did they possess?

You’ll always find – buried in there – was a ton of drive, passion and gallons and gallons of enthusiasm. It always changes an interview dynamic … and leaves interviewers and the audience wanting more.

By Ross Woodward, Media Key Principal. Ross has media trained dozens and dozens of major leaders over the years and has himself done many TV interviews and hundreds of radio interviews on the ABC and commercial stations.

He was a BBC and ABC journo and drinks far too much tea. Media Key is a leading Public Relations Agency in Australia operating nationwide and internationally for clients.

Handling a PR Crisis

One of the first things some companies do if a crisis hits is the worst thing you can do – HIDE.

The thinking seems to go along the lines that if no comment is made, that will work well as a strategy and stop the story developing.

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Rarely is this the case … media are going to continue to pursue a story and if they cannot get comment from you, they are going to do all they can to find others who will make a comment.

It is at this point that you really do lose control over the story.  Your side of the story is not getting heard.  Any perspective you have simply is not added to the mix.  All this … plus the story rolls on.

Think about it from this point of view … and it’s something I have considered many times over many years … WHAT is the first thing YOU think when an organisation refuses to comment on a story?

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Do you think they have something to hide?  Or can you see their point of view?

This is why – by and large – it is best to get on the front foot if you are managing a crisis.  Make media aware you are ready to take some questions – and to speak out.  Make them aware that you are happy to do an interview.  Then … do exactly that.

In preparation, ensure you have covered all possible bases and be ready to answer the hardest of questions.  KNOW what you want to say – and HOW you are going to say it.  Be clear, concise and passionate about your perspective.  Audiences know instinctively when they are being spun a line… so ensure authenticity is a key part of your mix.  Speak from the heart as well as the head … and always address any complex questions head on.  Avoiding issues will look like that … so don’t.

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Finally it’s vital you respond in a timely and very efficient manner.  Too many organisations take the view that media will need to fit in with their agenda.  It is far better to know all the deadlines media are facing, find them out and seek to meet them.  It is much better to get media to realise you want to work with them… not against them.  Know when people will need comments by, and do all you can to meet those needs.  This may get you much better results in the long run.

By Ross Woodward

Ross Woodward leads MEDIA KEY.  Media Key does PR for organisations in Sydney, Melbourne and around Australia.  It is one of Australia’s leading PR agencies creating high impact campaigns for many different clients.  

 

Some of the Key Elements You Need for a Good Media Release

There are many ways of looking at a media release.  The bottom line is it’s a release of information designed to get media interested in your story.

So the first thing you need to do is have an attractive and catchy headline.

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Some people will tell you a headline should only be one line.  That’s simply not true.  A headline can be as long as you need it to be – so long as you are summarising the story and giving the reader a clear picture of what the story is about.

At Media Key, we frequently write headlines that may run for three paragraphs or more.  This has never been to the detriment of a PR Campaign.  The key is to capture the information and distil it.  The key is to tell people in a number of sentences what the story is all about.

There are no ‘rules’ about exactly how you should do a media release.

The following may assist when you are putting a release together.

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Firstly, be aware journalists only have so much time.  Jobs are being cut back more and more in the media so in an ideal situation a media release runs for no longer than two pages.

Secondly, in those two pages ‘tell the story’ and give plenty of facts and figures.  Tell the media what the story is about.  Attribute quotes to the right spokesperson and give statistics and examples using those statistics.

Stay away from ‘jargon’ and keep your information tight and punchy.  It’s important that anybody reading the story can understand the messages in the media release and understand what the story is all about.  If you get lost in waffle, that’s what is going to happen to your reader.  It’s really important to keep things simple.

Using the old KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid – is always a good idea.  Keep everything bright, fresh and simple.

Make sure there is a clear media contact at the end of every media release.  Make sure that phone number is going to be picked up at any time if a journalist calls.  The last thing journalists want is to call a phone number because they are interested in a story, and then they can’t reach anybody.

Memorable lines are a vital part of any media release.  It’s not just a question of giving out statistics.  You need to paint pictures to highlight the problem or issue.  Consider carefully how you can create a memorable line.  Consider also the visuals behind any story.

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Many members of the media are going to want visuals.  They may need images for a website.  If it is TV, they are looking for good pictures.

Accordingly, at the end of your release, there should be a section called ‘Visual Opportunities’ where you highlight the visuals to media and show them what is possible.

Finally, the last thing you want to do is become known as somebody who will peddle anything just for the sake of it.  Be sparing when issuing media releases.  It’s always best to issue a media release because it has genuine news value.  That way you become known for issuing material that is always worth reading and always worth considering.  This has to be your ultimate goal.  You want media to know you mean business and know and understand their business.

By Ross Woodward, Principal of Media Key.  Media Key Public Relations has written hundreds of media releases for dozens and dozens of clients over the years.  Ross is a former ABC/BBC journalist.  Media Key is one of Australia’s leading PR Firms.

 

Getting ready to talk with media.

Any media interview is obviously an opportunity to get your point across.

Be aware that interviewers aren’t going to ask you a set list of questions and they are not going to ask you the questions you want.

The first thing you must do is prepare, prepare and prepare.

Know what you want to say and how you plan to say it.

Figure out what tracks you plan to follow.  Decide what points you want to raise.  Be clear about what you want to say.

It’s a good idea to rehearse your points.  Go over them with a colleague.  Become clear about what you want to say.

Work out how you will answer the hardest possible questions.  The easy ones aren’t really the problem.  The hard ones are.

Accordingly you need to decide how you plan to react when you get the hardest possible questions.

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In theory you should know which are the hardest questions.  If you are not entirely sure, get a small group of people together and go through this.

In preparation for all interviews, know what sort of audience you are talking to and what they read or what their demographic is.  How old is this audience?  How do you think they might like to be talked to?  Consider all of this.

On the day itself – when doing an interview – arrive promptly.  It’s preferable in our view to get their half an hour earlier.  You may think this is ‘over the top’ however it gives you time to go back through points in your mind, it gives you time to settle into the media environment and it gives you time to relax ahead of the interview.

With any interview you need to go in relaxed and very focused.

When doing interviews, seek to bring the interview back to your own points wherever you can.  There is nothing the matter with that.  You are there to speak on behalf of your own agenda … so set the agenda and be clear about what you want to say.

Use bridge phrases.  For instance, “Whilst we are on this subject, I’d like to make this point …” or “I think it’s important to remember the bigger picture and the bigger picture is XXX”.

When you use these kinds of phrases, even if you are not totally sure where you are heading, the reality is that by the time you’ve used the phrases, you will have automatically have worked out where you want to head.

In any interview it’s perfectly ok – obviously – for you to disagree with an interviewer.  You are not there to please them.  You are there to state your case and make the points you wish to make.  Accordingly you may come up with phrases like ‘That’s just not true …” or “I couldn’t possibly agree with that because …”.

Be clear.  Be direct.  Be firm.  Stand your ground.

Let the interview breathe like wine.  What we mean by that is take a breath at different times and pause on your information.  If you have a really big point to make, build up to it and use some pausing for effect.

An interview is not an after dinner speech.  Accordingly, you must let the interviewer ask their questions.  Don’t try and hog all the airtime.  It’s a game of verbal tennis and – as such – you must put the ball back over their net and give them the opportunity to ask the questions they want and then answer the questions.

If an interviewer has highlighted something that you know is not accurate, it’s ok to straighten than information out.  An appropriate phrase might be “I know it may seem that way but the reality is …”.

Always look at the interviewer when you can.  Keep body language friendly.  Don’t become distracted with what is happening elsewhere.  If you are in a radio studio there may be a lot going on around you.  Ignore that and stay focused on the mission.

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If you are doing TV interviews, dress for business and look like you mean business.  Dress as you feel comfortable from a business perspective – it is most important you feel comfortable in the outfit you are wearing.  Make sure you have nothing that is going to start making noises in the studio … such as jewellery or a watch.

Some other quick key points:

  • Ask the interviewer how long you have got.
  • Become aware of that time frame.
  • Establish whether the interview is live or not (many are live).
  • Don’t try to become the new best friend of the interviewer.  The interviewer is there to do a job.  So are you.
  • Know off by heart the top ten key points you are going to get across no matter what.
  • Take some notes with you and ideally use those notes subtly during the interview.
  • Try to relate points that your audience will understand.
  • Paint pictures with words of points you are seeking to get across.
  • Don’t use long winded phrases – keep your information tight and to the point.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of becoming aggressive or rude should the interviewer appear to be rude to you.
  • Know your subject and key points.  Give out contact websites and phone numbers twice.
  • Always be helpful in your attitude – you want the listener/viewer to feel that you were seeking to help the interviewer as much as possible whilst being clear about your points.
  • Become very aware that all interviews will only give you so much time so keep your answers tight, bright and sharp.  This is one of the absolute keys to interviews and ideally have some strong memorable lines that will stick in people’s minds.

 

Written by Ross Woodward – Company Principal of Media Key.  Media Key runs dozens of PR Campaigns every year and has run hundreds of campaigns.  Ross has appeared on national TV and numerous radio programs over a lengthy period of time.