Five Questions To Ask About Media Training Your Spokesperson Before Your Next SMT or RMT

Media training your spokesperson for broadcast appearances on TV and radio (including satellite media tours) is often a service that is neglected or performed in-house at publicity agencies.  Before you make an investment in a spokesperson, spend time booking interviews, or engage a company to produce a SMT or RMT, there are five questions you should ask to determine if you need to add specialized media training services to your campaign budget.

#1.  We are paying a high fee for the spokesperson. Why should we spend additional budget to media train them? Even the most experienced spokesperson needs to rehearse and prepare for each on-camera appearance and specific client message. No one “wings it” and nails it. Clients invest a significant amount of budget in spokesperson fees and a public relations campaign (especially ones involving a satellite media tour), but all that can fall apart if the spokesperson’s delivery is not fine tuned for a flawless delivery for their multiple interviews. The investment in media training protects the investment in the SMT and Spokesperson to maximize on-air success.

#2.  Our spokesperson has a lot of media experience and is on television regularly. Why would they need media training? Depending on your spokesperson’s background or expertise, not all media experience is the same. Actors, celebrities, and experts also don’t have experience with the client’s specific messaging so they need to be professionally media trained so that they ace the on-camera interview(s) for the client.

ACTORS (CELEBRITIES): Actors always work from a script and need to be given exact message points, but also need training and rehearsal on how to deliver a client message in a sincere way that doesn’t feel canned or memorized and that viewers will find authentic.  They also need to be trained on how to handle curve balls when interviews don’t go as planned so that they stay on message and avoid creating a P.R. disaster (for them or the client).

CELEBRITIES (NON-ACTORS): Celebrities who are non-actors include reality show stars, chefs, book authors, bloggers, social media sensations, etc. They do not have experience being interviewed on-camera in the SMT format and need media training to master the client message plus handle unexpected questions so that every interview is a home run.

EXPERTS / BOOK AUTHORS (NON-ACTORS): An expert makes a great spokesperson because their professional experience and credibility makes them a book-able guest, but most are not comfortable in front of a camera and are very new to delivering a client message. Media training prepares them to handle every interview with confidence that is important for gaining viewers trust.

Nothing will kill your spokesperson’s on-camera credibility more than verbal fossils (i.e. “ah,” “um,” “uh,” “well,” “so,” “you know,” “er,” and “like” ).   They are distracting, weaken the message, and frankly, make you sound bad. As with other nervous habits, they’re probably not aware that they do them.

They need to learn do’s and don’ts or they could derail their credibility and how to:

  • minimize ahs, ums, and other verbal fossils.
  • avoid wasting precious airtime rambling.
  • deliver a structured message for the three minute interview.
  • segue from questions back to client messaging.
  • how to pivot.
  • handle curve balls.
  • deliver the client message in a way that does not seem too commercial.
  • deliver the message authentically.
  • understand exactly what the client expects.
  • balance the questions and weave in the client message.
  • look at the camera to engage with a reporter that they cannot see.
  • handle technical issues if the IFB drops out or they’re getting audio feedback.
  • manage nervous habits and mannerisms.
  • answer questions and how not to answer questions so that they look good and the client looks good.

#3.  Our celebrity spokesperson doesn’t think they need media training. How do we persuade them to do it? First, it should be in their contract as part of your spokesperson arrangement. Second, it is important for the celebrity’s image to always look their best on-camera so media training is insurance that their personal brand and image is protected. Protecting your brand is equally important.

#4.  Our P.R. agency already provides media training services. Why should we contract services outside of our own agency?   Many P.R. agencies do a great job of preparing spokespersons for certain appearances, but the problem is that the agency media trainer has tunnel vision regarding their client’s messaging and the spokesperson is prepared to deliver the message in a such a way that is over commercial and this can really turn producers off. They’ll cut the client message out of the interview (especially if it’s taped). Also, they don’t media train the talent from a producer’s perspective.

#5.  What is the benefit of having a TV producer media train a spokesperson? Nothing can compare to having an experienced TV producer media train your spokesperson. They’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours in control rooms coaching on-air talent through IFBs, diligently watching TV monitors to help the talent make adjustments so that their on-camera delivery comes across flawlessly. You want a producer’s keen eye, innate sensibilities, and experience to fine tune every nuance of your spokesperson’s delivery so that they nail your message and every interview.

If you’re investing a significant budget for a public relations campaign into a satellite media tour, but fail to train your on-camera spokesperson, your brand could be damaged and your investment wasted.

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe — a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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