'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. --Abraham Lincoln
Looking at yourself through the media is like looking at one of those rippled mirrors in an amusement park. --Edmund Muskie
The most important idea you’ll take with you today is: It’s your interview. Use it to tell your story, not just to answer a journalist’s questions.
Your interview is not your time to answer questions -- it is your opportunity to present your messages. • The journalist in not “in charge” – you are.
Today You Will: • Learn how to take control of the interview from the first question. • Understand how to meet the journalist’s motive with your message. • Use bridging, flagging, and repetition to ensure that your message conveys. • Learn how to handle specific types of media interviews -- including print, television, radio, and email -- like a pro.
Preparation is Key -- Consider your Long-Term Care Message -- Before you meet the interviewer: • Think through the possible tough questions. • What are NAHU’s weaknesses? • What do you say when the reporter responds to your message point with, “Yes, but…”?
Preparation is Key – Consider your Long-Term Care Message -- Before you meet the interviewer, prepare: • sound bites and quotable phrases. • facts and statistics. • examples. • analogies. Be ready to speak in layman’s terms — no jargon.
Preparation is Key -- Your Messages Sound Bite: • “Long-term care insurance should be available and affordable for every American.”
Preparation is Key – Understanding the Media Understand the Journalist’s Motive “The job of the press is to encourage debate, not to supply the public with information.” -- Christopher Lasch
Preparation is Key – Understanding the Media Understand the Journalist’s Motive: • Most reporters want to tell a fair story – not promote your agenda OR make you look bad • Don’t mistake reporters for friends – or enemies. Because they laugh at your jokes doesn’t mean they won’t write a negative piece. • Good reporters ask tough questions. Tension and friction provide the leads they want. • Reporters are looking for news; they don’t see themselves as a mouthpiece for NAHU
Preparation is Key – Understanding Media Research your Reporter: • Know how NAHU fits into reporter’s story. Don’t agree to a request for an interview if you don’t like the story. For example: a feature piece on employees’ sinking morale during a recession might not be a good place for your message. • Watch news and listen to radio interviews conducted by your interviewer; read articles written by your journalist. You will get a sense of what they emphasize in their work.
Preparation is Key – Understanding Media When a Reporter Calls to Request an Interview, Ask: • Who is the reporter and who is the expected audience? • What is the publication or program and the outlet? • What is the deadline? (This lets you know how much time you have to prepare.) • What type of story is this – breaking news or feature? • Who else is the reporter interviewing for the story? • For radio and TV, will this be a live or a taped interview? For radio, will this be a call-in show?
During the Interview – All types of media Whether the Interview is Print, Radio or Television: -- Project Positive Energy -- • You’re glad to be here. • You’re interested in your audience. • You have knowledge you want to convey.
During the Interview – All types of media NAHU’s Core Long-Term Care Messages: • “One of the best ways to address the long-term care insurance problem is by creating incentives for individuals to purchase private or, when available, partnership long-term care insurance plans.” • “LTC premiums should be tax-deductible for everyone, not just individuals who itemize deductions.” • “Long-term care insurance should be available through cafeteria plans and Flexible Spending Accounts.”
During the Interview – All types of media TheFirst Question Rule:Take Control The first question is your first chance to get your message out. NO MATTER WHAT THE QUESTION, KNOW YOUR ANSWER GOING IN. • This provides you with the comfort of knowing what you’re going to say. • It allows you to set both the tone and an agenda.
During the Interview – All types of media TheFirst Question Rule:Take Control You can begin your answer with a “bridge” such as: “Mike, that’s a great question. Let’s take a step back and look at some important information. I’d like to give you some history….” . Then deliver your message.
During the Interview – All types of media Telling Your Story: Three Tools of the Trade • Bridging • Flagging • Repetition
During the Interview – All types of media Bridging -- Allows you to transition from the interviewer’s question -- or your answer to it -- to your message Remember: You’re there to put your message out, not to answer questions. You can: • Answer and bridge. • Just bridge. • Bridge and then answer.
During the Interview – All types of media Some Reliable Bridges -- • What’s important to remember is. . . . • Before we move on to another subject, I want to add. . . . • Even more important. . . . • Your viewers / listeners / audience / readers should also remember. . . . • The reality is…. • The reason I’m here….
During the Interview – All types of media More Bridges -- • There is more to the story, specifically. . . . • You make a good point there, but our main consideration was. . . . • Let me take a step back. . . . • What the public needs to understand…. • I’d just like to touch on…. • But may I just add….
During the Interview – All types of media No spinning, fudging, or skirting! Instead of “no comment,” bridge by saying: • I don’t know the exact number, but I can tell you…. • I don’t know; I’ll be happy to help you find out, but what’s important here is…. • This is what I know…. • I’m afraid that information is confidential, but I can tell you….
During the Interview – All types of media Flagging -- Focuses attention on your message and provides emphasis. To flag one of your core messages: stop, use a gesture and wording to highlight your point: • What the audience needs to know is. . . . • What I want to be sure you understand here is. . . . • The critical point is…. • If there’s one point viewers need to understand…. • I just need to emphasize….
During the Interview – All types of media Repetition -- Assume that it takes several repetitions for the average listener to take in what you’re saying. You’re not sounding like a “broken record”; you’re making sure your audience gets your message. Not only is it “okay” to repeat; it’s necessary. If you walk away thinking that you over-emphasized your message, consider it well done!
During the Interview – All types of media -- Practice -- Generate interview responses using bridging, flagging, and repetition.
During the Interview – All types of media During Your Interview -- NEVER ANSWER A HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION! A journalist might try to get an interesting story by leading you into a “what if” scenario. Never speculate. Instead, bridge to one of your core messages with: • That’s too hypothetical at this point, but…. • We’ll deal with that when the time comes, but.… • I don’t want to speculate on that, but what I think you’re trying to get at is….
During the Interview – All types of media During Your Interview -- • Correct a reporter’s error by stating the right information; don’t repeat incorrect information or negative comments. Remember: journalists are looking for intriguing quotes. • Use NAHU’s name often. Remember what you want to get out of this. • Listen carefully to the journalist’s questions and comments. • Be candid – no spinning, fudging, or skirting the issue. If you don’t know, say so. • Do not become frustrated if an interviewer seems unfair, biased or unfamiliar with your issue.
During the Interview – All types of media Be Very Careful of “Off the Record” Mostjournalists agree on these definitions: • Not for attribution: The comments may be quoted directly, but the source may only be identified in general terms (e.g., "a government insider"). • On background: The thrust of the briefing may be reported (and the source characterized in general terms as above) but direct quotes may not be used. • Deep background: The information may be included in the article but not attributed to the source or provided with any distinguishing characteristics about the source.
During the Interview – All types of media “Anything Else?” Absolutely! • When a journalist asks if there’s anything else you’d like to add, the answer is: “Yes, what people need to understand is…” or another appropriate bridge to one of your core messages. • Summarize your messages, or use the opportunity to review anything you think got too little attention in the interview. Don’t relinquish this final opportunity!
Television -- specifics Television: Before the Show • Provide graphics and background footage and make arrangements with the producer in advance. • Pre-taped conversations inform the reporter, relax you, and help shape the interview, but they are not “off the record.” • Be ready and able to tell your story in 15-20 seconds. • Relax your throat muscles by yawning, stretching, or drinking water. • Review your material; walk around and go over your points quietly to yourself.
Television -- specifics During the Interview – As you settle in, say to your host: So, Tim, what are we going to talk about? • This puts you on the offensive and more at ease. • This puts the interviewer in a defensive position.
Television -- specifics During the Interview -- • Sit on your jacket hem to keep the collar from bunching up behind your neck. • Watch the host for your cue, not the camera or producer. • When you are introduced, look at the camera, smile slightly and/or nod. • After the introduction, always look and speak directly to the reporter or host, not the camera. • Be patient, attentive, and engaged during cutaway shots.
Television -- specifics During the Interview -- • Avoid saying “uh-uh,” "ah," "like," “umm” and "you know.“ • Be careful about referring to any off-camera conversation. • Never interrupt or take a side question. • Never assume that you are off-camera until you leave the studio. • Remember: the camera and microphone are always on!
Television -- specifics Body Language Speaks Volumes • Slouching reduces your energy level and looks bad –sitting up straight projects confidence and honesty. • Gesturing too much can make you look unsure and nervous; it’s also distracting. • Sitting completely still, however, looks unnatural; a few gestures, especially for emphasis, are fine. When you’re not gesturing, keep your hands folded and in view.
Television -- specifics Body Language • Crossing and uncrossing your legs is a typical nervous reaction, but it is distracting. • Sitting too far back in a chair can make you appear defensive; try to look relaxed, but formal. • Biting your lip or clenching your jaw could be read as a sign that you are trying to hide something. • Try to maintain eye contact; looking down or looking away can also indicate that you are not being forthright.
Television -- specifics Dress -- • Avoid wearing narrow stripes, pinstripes, or small patterns. • Blues are great for women; black, navy, and grey for men. • Avoid large or dangling jewelry or shiny tie clasps. • Look neat and natural, but not overdone. • Avoid eyeglasses with lenses that darken.
Types of Studio Interviews – TV and Radio Live (and Live to Tape) Interview: The best part is that you know what will come through to viewers or listeners -- all of it. Do what you do best: bridge, flag, stick to your messages, repeat. Interview for Edit: This interview will be cut and reassembled -- leaving some parts out -- so every answer counts. Ensure that every response contains a message. Remote interview: Considered by many to be the most intimidating because you’re “alone” with the camera. Look at the camera and project a genial and professional manner. During the sound check, turn the volume up a little louder than you think you’re going to need it.
Print -- Specifics Print: Before the Interview • Set a time limit; you can choose to continue if things are going well. • You have more time with print than with TV or radio; prepare for more complex questions and longer answers. • Bring materials – chart, fact sheet, press kit – to leave behind.
Print -- Specifics Print: During the Interview • Remember: the journalist’s questions don’t appear in the story – only your responses will be quoted. Remain positive -- even in the face of antagonistic questioning. • Arrive early. • Record the interview.
Print -- Specifics Editorial Board Meetings • Everything you say should be considered “on record” and for attribution. • Generally these begin with a broad question. Jump in and guide the interaction. Controlthe meeting by delivering your core messages. • Be prepared for tough questions; bring supporting evidence like academic studies and opinion surveys. • You may bring third parties or other advocates for your cause. • Bring “leave-behinds” like charts, fact sheets, or a press kit.
Radio -- Specifics Radio • Be clear, concise and conversational. • Speak more slowly than you would normally; enunciate more, as well. • Remember that listeners may tune in at any point in the program, so make sure your answer includes all important information. • Repeat your best arguments as often as possible. • Be aware that listeners – and callers – tend to be unsympathetic to the issue being discussed. • Bring back-up materials, talking points, or notes with you.
Specifics for YourRadioor Print Interview -- Phones Tips for PHONE INTERVIEWS – Radio and Print • Stand up and pace -- your voice will project better. • Avoid cell and cordless phones -- they often make poorer connections. • Some people prefer long cords to facilitate pacing. • Have a colleague available to help with locating notes, monitoring progress of your interview. • Swallowing and drinking water help to relax the muscles in your throat.
E-mail Take Care with E-mail The often casual nature of email has lured many into dangerous waters. REMEMBER: • Humor often doesn’t come across. • Your exact words can be forwarded anywhere. • Your email exchanges with a reporter OR FORWARDED TO A REPORTER are considered “on the record” and can be quoted as such.
Media Notes In Telling Your Story, Keep in Mind that “News” is : • Something different today than yesterday. • Surprising, unexpected, or counterintuitive. • The first, biggest, most comprehensive. • Raising new issues, problems, solutions. • Linked to what’s already in the news. • Intriguing to your neighbor. -- whatever creates tension or a point of friction --
Media Notes Not All News Is the Same • Not all news is national. Regional, local, and trade press can help you reach important audiences. • Not all news is “hard news.” Consider feature and trend articles as potential venues. • Not all news is off-line. E-mail news alerts, news Websites, and on-line newsletters are all increasing in importance.
Final Thoughts Use Your Interview to Tell Your story • Take control with the first question. • Use BRIDGING, FLAGGING, and REPETITION to highlight YOUR CORE MESSAGES. • NEVER answer a hypothetical question. • Keep your cool and remain positive throughout any interview. • Remember: the camera or microphone is always on.