Interacting with the media used to only be a concern for politicians, executives, and law enforcement. You would give a press release or stand up in front of a podium for questions, and that was about it. Now virtually anyone can become the focus of intense press interest, meaning the skills to interact constructively with media is becoming crucial for any normie trying to survive online.
I’m going to write up a four part series on the basics any slob can use to make sure that when the time comes (and it will come), you don’t accidentally immolate yourself. I’ll break it down into four parts.
- What to say
- Who to say it to
- When to say it
- How not to fuck yourself
Today is part one in the series and we will focus on “what to say” should you find yourself talking to a reporter.
First, and this may seem obvious, but the press are not your friends. They have a job to do. Many people find it insulting that a reporter will chat you up, seeming all friendly like, only to find themselves portrayed in a light they didn’t expect. They blame the reporter. But it’s not the reporter’s fault. The responsibility for coming across the way you want is on you.
Step 1 is to Figure out your main point. If that’s the only key insight that gets communicated, you will be happy with the result. That means you need to plan out what you need to communicate. Rehearse it in your head. And do not deviate from what you planned to say. That means don’t give out idle chit chat to the press. Don’t make jokes about opponents. Stick to the point you wish to make and do not give any additional detail or color. Don’t get nervous or get rushed. Stick to what you planned to say. If you are a normie who just needs to survive a media encounter unscathed do not fuck around. Leave the advanced moves to the professionals
Think of it like talking to a cop. They are not your friend either. You don’t give up any additional information to law enforcement and you know you shouldn’t be talking to them without a lawyer. If I had my way, no one would talk to the press without a publicist on hand but we haven’t quite reached the stage where that’s a legal right (maybe it should be).
If you are being interviewed you may encounter questions you didn’t think of beforehand. That’s OK. Don’t panic. Recall your main point. Journalists anchor stories with what is called a “lede” which is the first thing mentioned a story. If you give an interview where you repeat your main point over and over again the journalist will intuit that this should be their lede. Or at least you increase your chances that your main point will become the entry point of the story. You will get your point heard.
You may notice skilled communicators always circle back to their original point. No matter what story or anecdote they tell they always get back to the one key thing that need you to grasp. I don’t care if the key point is “chocolate and peanut butter is the best combination” but if you are telling a reporter how you think caramel is also tasty and you actually quite like marshmallows and graham crackers with melted chocolate, I need you to come back to the punchline “but none of them compare to chocolate and peanut butter”
If you don’t get back to your main point you may find yourself reading a headline that says committed Chocolate & Peanut Butter Advocate admits that caramel may be just as good with chocolate. You can imagine how this turn turns out right? “How can we ever trust this agenda if they willingly offer up that other alternatives are equally tasty? Why do they insist on this combination for us when they know others are equally delicious”
Sure, this sound ridiculous but think of how many policy discussions are derailed when an academic innocently offers up that other points of view have merit but ultimately do not support their core conclusion. The doubt factory sets in and simple conclusions are clouded. Present your information clearly and as conclusively as possible.
Coming up soon, how to know who you should be talking to in the press.