Gone are the days when normies could be assured they would never have occasion to talk to the press. Social media gives us all the opportunity (and I don’t mean this positively) to grab the attention of the media. So how do you handle yourself, as a normie, when it’s your turn in the spotlight? This advice is not meant for folks who need to improve their media training skills but for normies who have no professional reason to interact with press. Plenty of great public relations content covers how to talk to the media for business people, civil servants and law enforcement with obligations or incentives for public relations.
To start at the beginning check out part 1, what to say. Today I’ll cover who to say it to. With future installments I’ll discuss when to say it and specific tactics on how not to fuck yourselves in the process.
So you may intuit why in what to say the key takeaway is to repeat your core point and not deviate with any color or commentary. Many of us know that words can get mangled when someone retells it. Telephone is a children’s game for a reason.
But who you talk to can be just as crucial as what you say to them.
First, stay as local as you can. National press, particularly television or big publications like the New York Times, can give you life changing exposure. But I mean it when I say life changing. Being in the spotlight can up end your reality. So be careful of that monkey’s paw. A local reporter is closer to your community. They have a better grasp on why an issue may be controversial and require a lighter touch. They appreciate that their subjects live in their community meaning they have less incentive to sensationalize or portray two sides to an issue as mortal enemies. Note that this isn’t necessarily true for how the subjects see themselves (few issues divide quite so well as the provincial or personal) but reporters have to remain in the good graces of their beat (the topics they are assigned by their editor) in a way that occasional subjects do not.
Next, be honest about what medium will serve your message best. If you are particularly articulate with the written word go to a print publication or online daily. If you are photogenic and confident you can deliver you message concisely in short (30 seconds or less) bursts then you can consider an invitation to be on a local television program. If you are good at conversations (this is the most risky as it is the least controlled) a radio or podcast program can offer more range. It is a rare person that can deliver information equally well in any medium. The old adage “they have a face for radio” has more truth to it than we care to admit to ourselves. Be brutally honest and pick a medium accordingly. Again this assumes that you are the center of a story and have a choice (and the first choice for most folks is not talking at all so all this advice assumes that you are past that moment and need to speak for yourself.)
Finally, if possible, pick a reporter or personality that is similar to you. We are kinder and more empathetic towards those we see ourselves in. I know this sucks for women and minorities of all kinds. But if you can find even the slimmest of ties or commonalities between you and the media covering you highlight it helps create a sympathetic connection. Both played the same sport? Love the same team? Have a passion for the same tv show? Research that shit ahead of time. I guarantee that the reporter will have done the same. Establishing a rapport is crucial.
So decide what you will say (concise and repeated) to an audience that will be empathetic to you (local, in a medium that flatters you, with someone who can relate). Next installment I’ll go over when to say what you have to say.