Recently, I was definitely given a taste of what it feels like to be on the "spot." It was time for my first media training session as the new Quarter Reporter for Delta Community Credit Union. I guess I had a general idea of what it was going to be about, but it was nothing like I expected. I envisioned a PowerPoint presentation, some note taking and the usual last remark before the close of a meeting, “Do you have any questions?” Boy, was I wrong.
The training was provided by Trevelino/Keller Communications Group
. They’re headquartered in Atlanta and specialize in public relations, branding and social marketing. During our session, they covered everything from company branding, Dos and Don’ts
of media and how to prepare for interviews. To say the least, no stone was unturned. Kelly and Tanner of Trevelino/Keller were sharp! They were attentive to every detail and after the presentation, Tanner turned on the camera, pulled up a chair and said, “Okay, Ashley, let’s see what you’ve got…time to record.” “Record… erm, huh? No taking the material home to read over it first?!” I thought to myself. Of course not, things happen very quickly in media…and you have to be on ready
I sat in my seat, took a deep breath and the cameras began to roll. Good thing, I remembered the key points we discussed during the meeting, but my knowledge was definitely tested. As a reporter, I’m used to asking the questions. Rarely am I the one in the hot seat. After the interview came the critique. As we watched my mock interview, we dissected everything. In the end, I was happy that overall, they thought I did a good job. Thankfully, my nervousness did not come across on camera, although I did feel those proverbial butterflies flutter in my stomach once or twice. The training turned out to be a fun experience and I learned a lot that can help me on the job as the Quarter Reporter or in any interview situation like for jobs.
Here are some snippets from the training that may help you the next time you find yourself being asked the tough questions:
Take deep breaths before an interview; it helps to release nervousness.
Be an effective communicator. Answer tough questions correctly and with confidence.
Control nonverbal cues like hand gestures, facial expressions and the need to fidget.
Don’t take cold calls for an interview. If possible, reschedule the call for a later date and give yourself time to research the reporter/company.
Develop key messages in concise sound bytes; know what to say beforehand.
There is no such thing as off the record; imagine that the microphone is always recording. Likewise, remember the interviewer is not your friend. So, keep it professional at all times no matter how friendly or comfortable he or she makes you feel.
Know when not to answer and simply admit when you don't know something. Always offer to check into it and follow up. (I’ve seen everyone apply this tip from teachers to key public figures. It’s just an honest answer that works.)
The key take away message from my media training: always be prepared
if you stay ready, you ain't gotta get ready, and that is how I run my life
– Will Smith, Actor/Entrepreneur