In 2018 Annual Conference, FPRA Blog

By: Alayna Curry, APR, Orlando Area Chapter

Twitter: alaynajolie

Instagram: alaynajcurry

For many of us in FPRA, media relations is a crucial part of what we do every day. For me, it’s in my job title. I’m the media relations manager for Arnold Palmer Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital, part of Orlando Health. I spend a lot of my time prepping and coordinating my physicians to do media interviews. That’s why I was interested in attending and blogging for Joan’s session about coaching your spokespeople.

She says getting your experts booked to do media is just the beginning. As the PR manager, your job is to coach throughout the entire process – before, during and after the interview.

“Don’t let your expert’s interview be their dress rehearsal,” says Joan. I’m definitely guilty of this, and it usually back fires. If there’s one thing we got from this session, it’s the importance of practice.

As PR people, we often wear many hats, and this is true when it comes to media training. Joan listed eight hats that we wear during this process:

  1. Cheerleader– Explain to your expert that being a spokesperson for the organization is an important role. Motivate and encourage them.
  2. Reporter– Play the reporter for your expert. Prepare sample question and ask your expert to give you questions they’d like to answer. Record a video of them doing a mock interview and play it back for them. Help build their “internal coach,” meaning they’ll notice what they’re doing while they’re doing it and correct it.
  3. Therapist/Educator and Mindset Transformer– Understand how to approach your expert so they see the value in doing media. Teach them to be an educator, reminding them that they know more about the subject than any journalist interviewing them.
  4. Student/Learner– You are the student, learning from your expert to help shape the story. Ask them for feedback during practice. What did they do well? What could they improve upon?
  5. Storyteller– Teach them to share stories that are relevant to the audience.
  6. Prophet/Visionary– The opportunity to do media puts you in front of many people. Help your expert see this is a powerful tool to spread their positive message.
  7. Director– You’re leading the entire process, start to finish.
  8. Translator– Help translate your expert’s message into something relevant and understandable to the audience. Help them break down industry jargon.

When coaching your expert, you’re not just working on whatthey’re saying, but howthey’re saying it. When people are receiving a message they’re not sure if they believe, they rely to three key indicators: visual, vocal (pitch, rate, volume, articulation, coloring of word, melody, fillers) and verbal (content). Joan says that the verbal is really the least important. While your content does matter, it gets communicated through the visual and vocal first.

Here are a few final tips to discuss with your expert:

  • Before the interview, make sure your expert knows about your organization’s PR guidelines and boundaries. Should they share personal opinions?
  • Teach them about the media environment and give them background on who will be interviewing them.
  • Choose the headline you want and build your key messages around that.
  • Be concise and to the point, always thinking and speaking in soundbites.
  • Have forward energy. Sit in the forward half of the chair and feel free to use your hands effectively.
  • Incorporate the question from the reporter into the answer.
  • Use congruent verbal and non-verbal messages. These need to be aligned or the audience won’t believe your message.
  • Be interruptible. Don’t be so long winded that the reporter can’t find a pause to ask you another question.

This is just a small snapshot of Joan’s session. Click here to read her article in PR News called “The PR Manager as Coach – And the Supporting Cast of Characters.” You’ll find even more great tips and tricks to make your spokespeople deliver their message effectively.

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