Within the pages of Media Magnetism, you’ll find expert tips, guidelines and resources for just about any media relations situation you can think of. We understand, though, that every individual and every organization is unique and, to that end, this section is an opportunity for you to ask questions and receive answers that can assist you.
Just a couple of rules we’d like you to follow:
1. Submit your question via my website at http://www.authorhamlett.com.
2. Please keep your question to 75 words or less.
3. This isn’t a forum for self-promotion (which is why all questions are screened by the site administrator prior to posting).
4. Make sure you’re signed up to receive notification whenever a new post is made.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
TOPIC: WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE
QUESTION: Help! What is a creative, catchy and politically correct way to refer to women of a certain age? We’re doing our own ad for a money management conference to attract this specific age group (they’re over 50, empty-nesters, likely divorced) but we’re at a loss on the right phrasing to get their attention. Thank you. – Monika
ANSWER: Regarding your answer bag question, Monika, this just came up in a womens biz networking group I’m in and consensus was that lots of women dislike “middle aged” or “mature” but all of us like “women in their prime or in the prime of their lives.” – Deborah Genovesi (http://communicationscopilot.com)
ANSWER: If you’re going for the whimsical, suggested a male colleague of mine, you could call them “zoomers” or “chronologically gifted.” This is the same person who opined that if an older man can be a “silver fox,” an older female should be a “silver vixen” (which sounds just a tad wicked). – Christina Hamlett (http://www.authorhamlett.com)
TOPIC: DEAD AIR
QUESTION: I am pretty new to doing radio shows and a problem has come up a couple times now. What do you do when there is dead air? I sometimes think the person I’m interviewing (they’re artists and musicians if that’s important) is going to give a longer answer but then they don’t and they wait for me to say something. If I move on to my next question and then they do the same thing, I’m going to end up with 15-20 minutes of nothingness. Any suggestions? – Ray
ANSWER: Great question, Ray. This is indeed a challenge all radio show hosts deal with, including me. When someone gives a short reply, I respond by complimenting them on their answer and then I answer the question myself as well. If something comes to mind, I throw in a personal example of how this happened to me. Adding a story to dead air is a great way to keep interest alive. In preparation for the show, it helps to go through the interview questions and jot just a few quick notes that will allow you to add in comments/stories if this happens. Just a quick 5 minutes of prep will take care of this. Then, loosen up and be in the moment. It’s amazing the things that come to mind while you’re in a conversation with a guest. Go with the flow and your show will zing regardless of the personality or responses of your guest.
~Lana McAra, Host of TheProspectProfileronRadio.com
TOPIC: EVENT PLANNING ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET
QUESTION: Hi! We’re a small non-profit that’s putting on our first event. We only have about $500 to spend on advertising it. What do you think is the best, most effective use of this limited amount of cash? Thank you. – Dayna
ANSWER: Before answering and to be able to help you best, I need more specific information. What type of event is it? How many people do you wish to come? What type of nonprofit are you and do you have a membership base or have ‘partners’ or ‘sponsors’? What is the cost of the event to attend and what will happen at the event? – Wendy Anderson (http://www.woweventproductions.com)
Ms. Anderson: We’re putting on a carnival to raise money for art supplies for a local school. There will be games, food, face-painting, some music and an auction. We’re only charging a $5 admission and want to get as many people as we can, maybe a couple hundred? We don’t have any sponsors, just parents and teachers. Do they count? – Dayna
Not sure how much lead time you have before your event but here are some ideas:
- Contact your local community papers and see if you can list your event in their calendar section.
- Also ask them if then would consider being a media sponsor – and run ad(s) for you on the event. However, you would have to figure what they would get in return. If you have a program handout, it could be a listing or if they run an ad(s) for you, they could list themselves in the ad as a Sponsor (good community promotion for them).
- Make up flyers and have all the teachers and parents help distribute them. Sometimes rather than flyers, postcards are nice as handouts, too.
- If there are local churches in the area, check with them if they would distribute to their parishioners after their church services.
- Focus on the community where your school is – that is where you will get the most support!
- Write up a ‘heart warming’ story about why the school is doing this or ‘tell a story’ within this and send to your local papers – or get quotes from students – the papers may write it up as a story to encourage people to support you.
- If you have local community centers, senior centers and even retail shops and local restaurants, they may help leave out your flyers or put up your posters in their windows.
- And utilize all the social media to get ‘blasting out’ your event on Facebook, twitter, email, etc. Rather than just the info, add something like a quote from a student or an activity that is different, etc.
– Wendy Anderson (http://www.woweventproductions.com)
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TOPIC: THE BOSS NEEDS A MEDIA MAKEOVER
QUESTION: Our boss is the only one allowed to talk to reporters but he’s awful at it and it’s always embarassing. What do image consultants do and what are some simple things we could tell him ourselves without getting fired? Help! – RJ
ANSWER: RJ, To answer the first part of your question, part of my approach to media coaching as an image consultant is to teach clients how to think on their feet and mentally edit/re-word their responses to a more positive and professional tone instead of teaching them how to give canned answers. I also coach them on how to dress for television interviews since dressing for the camera is slightly different from dressing for face-to-face interactions.
To answer the second part of your question: If you know your boss gets nervous or anxious about talking to reporters and would like to ease that anxiousness, then I would present working with a media coach as the answer to his concern. That way you are showing how he will benefit from it, as opposed to how others (viewers, the rest of the staff) will benefit from the service. Show him what’s in it for him, and he’ll be more likely to seek the assistance he needs. Better yet, make him think it’s his idea! The next time he makes a comment about not looking forward to a media interview, ask him if he thinks working with a media coach will help him feel better about it and see what he says. If he replies with a positive response, you’ll know he’s open to the idea and ask him if he knows of someone who can help him with it.
For some simple tips he can follow for any upcoming interviews, feel free to share with him the “Media Coaching” category in my blog: http://panashstyle.blogspot.com. – Lori Bumgarner
2 thoughts on “The Answer Bag”
Hello RJ! This is an issue that has come up MANY times in my 20+years of media training executives at various global corporations. Successful Fortune 500 companies I’ve worked with, like Sony, Target, and Nintendo, know that there’s no stigma in getting help to improve a skill, and that’s what media interaction is, a skill that must be learned and honed.
My first suggestion would be to present media training as a matter of fact option for your boss, because in top companies that is how it is viewed. Training is standard operating procedure for executives. You can also position it as a nice VIP executive perk that he gets, as spokesperson. An effective media trainer can teach your boss how to deliver key messages while remaining poised and being himself. Stepping on to a TV set is like landing on an alien planet. Astronauts don’t attempt that without plenty of preparation, and neither should corporate spokespeople!
It’s unclear how exactly your boss is failing in media interviews but most likely it’s a combination of missteps. There are many parts that must all be in alignment with corporate brand– how you look, while important, is only one. I take clients through an 8-step system to teach them to be more “media-genic” and it includes steps like planning out media outreach, learning to develop and comfortably use “soundbites” so that what you say to media grabs attention, understanding how the media works so you can give them exactly what they want and also the more traditional “media coaching” skills like how to work in your messages regardless of what you are asked, maintain your cool on camera and brush up specific performance skills including voice and appearance.
The short answer is that media excellence is simple but not easy. It’s a skill that requires specialized media training and lots of practice, so ideally it sounds like professional training is in order. Think about what’s at stake—your boss’s reputation, your company’s brand, potential business growth. It’s worth it to get it right.
A good first step—go grab my complimentary 3-part video training series “Top 10 Mistakes Authors & Experts Make on TV & Radio and How To Avoid Them” and my free ezine with media tips at my website: http://www.CommsCopilot.com. Please enjoy!
Your “Communications Copilot”
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