Oh no! You just found out the media is coming and you know you are not ready. What do you do? I sincerely hope you are not ever caught in this position without media training first but sadly, we often get an inquiry for services AFTER the media event has taken place. Beyond being in a very uncomfortable position, your professional or business reputation may be on the line if you misstep or say the wrong thing. Or worse, you could face legal consequences.

Sorry-we didn’t mean to freak you out even more. I promise, We are here to offer some basic tips which should help in case you find yourself in this situation. So here we go!

Why is the media coming? Seems basic enough, right? But there are many reasons why the news media may be interested in talking with you and you need to ask that question first and foremost. After all, there is a chance they are coming for a good reason. Not all media inquiries are bad and maybe they want to promote a new product or service you are offering, which would be a great opportunity. If the story has a negative slant, you need to know that as well to determine how you will address the inquiry. Either way, the first step to navigating a media opportunity successfully is knowing why they are coming in the first place.

Prepare and Practice Your Key Messages. We realize you may not have much time but at the bare minimum, get online and do some fact finding, if needed. If they need you to be an expert source you need to sound like one. Once equipped to answer their likely questions, focus on three key messages and practice! Say it out-loud, not just in your head. No matter which platform of media is coming you will still need to verbalize your answers. Finally, condense your answers. The media is impatient and time is limited. They will only use small chunks of what you tell them so keep it short and sweet.

When it goes negative, don’t go in the weeds.

If the interview turns south on you, the best advice is to not take the bait. Stay broad with your answers and then stop talking and wait for the next question. If the reporter asks you a question which you don’t know the answer for, don’t make something up! Instead, simply tell them you are going to need to get back to them on that. Never repeat a negative!

Obviously, there’s a lot more to media training than what’s here but hopefully this helps in a pinch. Call us for more detailed and in-depth media and messaging training.

Rich Dubek is a two time Emmy winning TV News Reporter who owns and operates the Dubek Media Group based in Tempe, Arizona. The firm specializes in media and on-camera training and full service video production. www.dubekmediagroup.com