How Theresa May should prepare for her Trump photo call
It’s a big day for the British Prime Minister, becoming the first world leader to meet newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump. The cream of the British and American media will be there to record the moment and ask questions, so May’s team will have worked closely with Trump’s team to create what they hope will be iconic, impressive images captured for posterity…and to be repeated in news reports for years to come. Except with a maverick installed at the White House, it might not be that straightforward.
Learn from your interviews
It’s not unusual to discover that spokespeople have no idea how their interview went because they didn’t watch it back. Confident spokespeople can (sometimes wrongly) assume they came across well and their messages hit their mark. Less confident spokespeople can (often wrongly) assume their interview was terrible and be put off accepting future interview opportunities. In both cases, their organisations lose out.
Public Speaking: Conquering the Fear
For most people, public speaking is something to avoid or endure. Having to do it can bring on all kinds of reactions. Uncontrollable shaking, profuse sweating, racing heartbeat, breathing difficulties, even an inability to stand up. I’ve trained public speakers who suffered all of these frightening feelings and many more. Even people used to the public spotlight are not immune. So it’s no surprise to hear the experience of Harry Potter actress and UN goodwill ambassador, Emma Watson.
Why Empathy Trumps Performance in Interviews
One of the most important attributes of a good spokesperson is empathy. So important is this aspect of emotional intelligence that it frequently trumps a slick performance in a media interview. Your spokesperson may have the answers to the journalist’s questions and carefully crafted key messages but if they’re unable to come across as human, if the audience can’t relate to them, then it’s highly likely that your organisation will fail to get its message across.
Fools Rush In…to Media Interviews
In An Essay on Criticism, the eighteenth century poet Alexander Pope wrote “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” This certainly applies to media interviews. An encounter with a journalist – even when there is no crisis or sensitive issue as a backdrop – is never to be entered into lightly and always involves an element of risk. To mitigate that risk, organisations need to properly consider the risks of doing an interview, as well as the (frequently greater) risks of not doing one. If you or your company/charity/group have decided to speak to the media, get on with it. Why let your competitors/detractors get all the attention? If you don’t do an interview, somebody else will, so take the opportunity to get your message across as soon as you can, giving you the chance to get ahead of the story and contribute to the coverage. This is especially true you’re facing criticism or a media storm.
ABC – How to Handle a Media Crisis
In February 2016, Mars faced one of its worst case scenarios – a contaminated product with the potential to harm customers. The company issued a worldwide recall of Mars, Snickers and Milky Way bars, after a customer found a piece of plastic inside a Snickers. Inevitably this was a big story for the media in terms of reach (everyone who loves chocolate), scale (worldwide) and implications (would people/children stop eating the chocolate bars, would Mars see big losses in sales, the future of the brand/company?).
Charities Under Scrutiny
Enduring media scrutiny when something goes wrong is pretty high on the list of worst nightmares for any organisation. How much worse, then, when you’re a charity – an organisation set up to help people, to do good, to effortlessly occupy the moral high ground? Some of the UK’s best known charities, such as Age UK and Help for Heroes, know exactly how that feels, following allegations, relentless media coverage and confirmation that they’re being investigated by the Charity Commission.