Newsletter PR: The Good, Bad and Ugly
Trained, Not a Train Wreck
by Amy Davis on 09/20/2012
Back during my days as a television news reporter, just nine months ago, I was adept at working with people ready for the camera. Oh, how I both loved and loathed these types! They were your high-level executives, experienced politicians, and company spokespeople.
How could I appreciate them so much, yet clinch my fists in frustration when interviewing them? What made working with them so bittersweet? They were trained.
They had media training and I loved them for it.
They responded the moment I called. They were ready no matter the circumstance. They never denied me an on-camera interview. These people were confident, knowledgeable, and looked great. They understood that I was short and harried, not because I was rude, but because had extremely limited time and was always on a deadline. They knew I could be wherever they were in 20 minutes and their interview would air an hour later. They gave me good, quick sound bites. I counted on them as a source for stories.
They had media training and it could be a little annoying. They knew what to say. Even if I asked the same question multiple times in multiple different ways, they gave me the answer they wanted to. Their message was always the same. They would not give me the little tidbits I might be digging for as a journalist. They protected their brand’s message and kept it consistent.
These people got public exposure for their company or brand all the time. I was always interviewing them. Most often it was positive PR because they were in control of their own message. They had established a relationship with the media that benefitted them.
PR companies tell their clients more and more to be ready and be available when the media calls. Shying away from the camera crew or a print interview is not the way to show your company in a good light. It makes you look like you’re hiding something. Please, above all, do not ever say “no comment.”
It was honestly painful as a reporter to watch someone ill-prepared on camera. We’ve all seen them on TV, the person looking at the ground, sweating, and stumbling over their word. I felt guilty, like I was somehow exploiting this poor person who actually had a good message. They just couldn’t relay that comfortably on camera.
We run across clients confident they don’t need to be “trained” for the media because they speak to their employees and present to their coworkers all the time. Some of the most knowledgeable people we know in their industries, suddenly become unsure and scared when the camera light comes on.
Many companies have flood and fire insurance should the worst happen, but they’re not ready when five news trucks are outside their place of business at 6:00am because of an explosion. They always think it can’t happen to them. Their spokesperson is frazzled, unprepared, and unprofessional.
Don’t be the person reporters feel sorry for. Be the one they have a bittersweet love for.