Gone are the days when a company spokesperson would be grilled in the hot seat under the bright lights of television cameras in the studio. Today’s media interview hot seat is at home, with almost all of them being done via Zoom or similar video conferencing. In some ways, it is more convenient to conduct interviews, but there are new hurdles because much more depends on you. Preparation is as important as ever.
Becoming a sought-after Zoom interviewee requires virtual media training to equip company leaders and spokespeople with the tools to tackle the new format. What do you need to know?
- Media 101 – The media landscape has drastically changed due to COVID-19. There are fewer reporters on staff and they are wearing multiple hats, so they have limited time for deep-dive interviews. What reporters need from your screen to theirs is someone who looks and sounds credible and is well-prepared for questions. Media do not want someone who drones on about how great their company is. They need a thought leader who can provide insight into an issue or trend — be it work-from-home, back-to-work, diversity and inclusion or current economic issues. Even on Zoom, you have less than a minute to solidify that first impression with the reporter and their audience. A spokesperson needs to think about what the reporter wants and how to deliver your Single Overriding Communications Objective — your SOCO.
- Bridging Techniques – The number-one question we answer is: “How do I handle tough questions that I don’t want to answer?” It is as simple as A.T.M. – Answer the question, Transition to a topic you want to cover, and then deliver your key Message or SOCO.
- Appearances Make a Difference – Don’t be lulled into a casual approach because you aren’t in a studio. Your on-screen visual appearance plays an important role in how you are perceived via Zoom. You need the right lighting, sound, camera framing, background, make-up and clothing to create the executive presence that defines you and your company.
- Mock Interviews –Virtual media training will run a spokesperson through several simulated interviews that are recorded and reviewed to pinpoint wins and weaknesses. Surviving such tough questions is preparation for any interviewer who might try to take you off track.
- Messaging, Messaging, Messaging – What is the most important take away from media training? Messaging. You’ve undoubtedly witnessed a business leader who misses opportunities because they can’t concisely communicate the unique key messages in a 10-second sound bite. What are the three things you need to say that represent your company’s brand? These messages also will be valuable for sales materials, news releases, social media posts and website copy.
Nailing the interview could be the difference between being a trusted source and thought leader to a news station, or never being contacted again. Many business leaders think they know how to interview, but strong leaders accept that they will be challenged and practice their responses to control facial expressions and nervous ticks. It’s important to note other’s mistakes.
Business executives can always improve their presentation style. You may be sitting comfortably at home with your dog at your feet, but you must still command the Zoom room with your presence.
Let us know how we can help. We offer a brief 2-hour session for one to three spokespersons, or half or full-day sessions for the entire senior leadership team.