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Three Media Lessons from Paula Deen

by Gerard Braud

Gerard Braud Paula Deen“I is what I is, and I’m not going to change.” That is the costly statement made by Paula Deen to Matt Lauer in an NBC Today Show.

“If you could attach a dollar to every word you say, would you make money or lose money?”

Those are the first words every executive hears when they attend one of the executive media training classes I teach, designed to help them become more effective communicators and a better spokesperson. [An entire chapter is dedicated to this issue in my book, Don’t Talk to the Media Until… 29 Secrets You Need to Know Before You Open Your Mouth to a Reporter.]

Paula Deen’s interview with the NBC Today Show and Matt Lauer is a living example of three common mistakes made by powerful people who fail to adequately prepare for a  media interview.

Lesson One: Plan Your Quotes

Granted, the racial slur in question is the event everyone focuses on. But in the June 26, 2013 interview with Matt Lauer, it wasn’t her use of a slur, but her failure to plan great quotes and her propensity to ad lib statements that could be taken out of context, that created the greater problem.Paula Deen Today Show

“I is what I is, and I’m not going to change,” Deen said, as my wife and I shared a cup of coffee in the kitchen, watching Today.

As soon as she said it, I told my wife, there’s the sound bite of the day. Sure enough, that was the sound bite that showed up moments later on CNN and every other network. Outside of the context of the full interview, this is a damning sound bite. If you are a person who believed before the interview that Deen was a racist, and then you saw just that quote on the news, she essentially said to you, “I am a racist and I’m not changing.”

Wow? Every day spokespeople continue to say dumb things in interviews and it appears there is no end in site. I would really like to know what, if any preparation she did before this interview. I would love to know if Paula Deen had a media trainer, or if, like many high powered people, she decided to just “wing it.” Did she mistakenly believe that because she is on television so often that no preparation was needed for an interview worth tens of millions of dollars?

In media training, I tell every potential spokesperson, “When you wing it, you crash and burn.”

It is amazing that companies will spend countless hours negotiating multi-million dollar contracts, yet spend little or no time training a spokesperson for an interview that could potentially cause them to lose millions of dollars in revenue with a single misplaced word or sentence.

Lesson Two: Apologize, Yet Understand the Rule of Thirds

Deen does get high marks from me for agreeing to do an interview. If you are in trouble, you need to apologize and make the apology good. She tried, but failed to get full credit for her effort because of her ad lib, oh shucks, I’m from the south persona.

My rule of 3rds applies to Deen’s case. I believe that for any public figure, 1/3rd of the people love you, 1/3rd of the people hate you, and 1/3rd swing like a pendulum, siding with the popular 1/3rd. To that extent, Deen will never lose her loyal following. Media stories showed supporters, black and white, outside of her restaurant verbalizing their love for the southern cooking icon. The monetary loss of sponsors begins when the 1/3rd in the middle decide not to buy your products any more, with, in my opinion, the nail in the coffin being a bad ad lib.

Great quotes must be planned, practiced, and delivered. Great quotes are not an accident.

Refer to this previous blog post and video for lessons on how a planned quote works, even to the point of making you a front-page headline.

Lesson Three: If You Could Attach a Dollar to Every Word You Say, Would You Make Money or Lose Money?

Ultimately, “I is what I is, and I’m not changing,” caused Deen to likely lose tens of millions of dollars. It became the trigger that caused more sponsors and retailers to drop her.

So let me ask you, before an interview, are you willing to ask an interview expert to help you prepare, or would you rather just “wing it?”

 

 

Tutorial #23: Now is the Time for PIOs and Official Spokespeople to Embrace and File CNN iReports

Tutorial #23 by Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

When public relations people, corporate spokespeople and Public Information Officers (PIO) tell me they can’t do something, I know they are right. Negative people are always right when they say they can’t, even if it means they won’t try. This makes me crazy.

Usually they blame it on their boss, who first says no. Sometimes, they won’t even try, out of fear of being told no.

As I’ve taught workshops on this topic of filing CNN iReports as part of your crisis communications and media relations strategy, I’ve had way too many people tell me they don’t think they could get permission to do it. That’s sad.

Of course, many of these people work for bosses who don’t want to speak at a news conference either.

I have some final thoughts in today’s video tutorial. You can watch it here.

My approach to crisis communications is that you, in an official capacity as a spokesperson, should be ready to talk to the media within an hour of the onset of your crisis. If you are willing to be interviewed by a reporter, you should be willing to record yourself on video and post it to the internet on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and in some cases, as a CNN iReport.

I think you can. I’ve done it many times as a way to show you what you  can do. The challenge is now yours. Are you a positive person who says you can or a negative person who says you can’t?

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

 

Tutorial #22: Keep it Short

Tutorial #22 by Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

Think about your own habits when you watch a video on the web? Do you like long videos or short videos?

Chances are, you prefer them short.

So today’s advice is to keep your videos as short as possible.

Take a look at today’s video tutorial. I hope it isn’t too long.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

Tutorial #21: Great New Gadgets for iReporting and Web Videos

Tutorial #21 by Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

In my previous tutorials I’ve talked about lighting, audio, and holding your smart device at arm’s length. However, I have recently purchased several cool items that I want you to know about.

Watch today’s video tutorial to see them in action. They include device that allow you to attach your iPhone or iPad to a camera tripod. This can help to keep your shot steady, while still allowing you to move it some.  I paid about $12 for the iPhone attachment and about $69 for the iPad attachment.

You’ll see a really cool LED video light that mounts to the top of the iPad bracket using what is known as a “hot shoe.” This helps to put light on your face and maintain flesh tones when your face might otherwise be too dark. I paid about $25 for it.

For good audio, I’ve purchased a lavaliere microphone that plugs into the headphone jack on my smart device. This gives me better sound for my on camera narrations. I paid about $25 for it.

Each can make your CNN iReport or web video a little better. Best of all, I bought all 4 item at a great price.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf,  so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

Tutorial #20: Crap is King

Tutorial #20 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

In his song Dirty Laundry, singer Don Henley says, “crap is king,” referring to the fact that television news often gives more attention to silly things, rather than the serious. Likewise, the audience also likes those silly things, like the water skiing squirrel story on the news. You may have seen that video clip in the movie Anchorman.

While I’m encouraging public relations professionals, spokespeople and Public Information Officers (PIOs) to share their stories of breaking news, I want to also encourage you to look for side stories about the fascinating side of your event.

Watch today’s tutorial as it features an iReport I filed called Rare Frigate Birds Tropical Storm Lee.

During Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, I filed numerous serious reports, which each received several hundred views. But the side story about the Rare Frigate Birds received more than 99,000 views in about 12 hours. I find that amazing.

In crisis communications we focus on the serious, but often there are stories of human victories that are sweet and need to be told to the media and the media’s audience. Keep your eyes and ears open for these stories.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

Tutorial #19: How to Shoot and Why to Send B-Roll to CNN

Tutorial #19 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

When filing an iReport with CNN, you can either place yourself on camera as a narrator of events, or send video of an event that is still happening. That extra video is known in the television business as B-Roll. When I file iReports, I send both.

Ultimately, my goal is for CNN producers to call me to ask me to be interviewed live on CNN or HLN during one of their news programs. During the interview, they will begin with me on camera talking to the anchors, then they will cut away and show the video that I’ve sent.

Watch today’s tutorial to better understand how this works.

When you are shooting B-Roll, also called “cover video,” you want to do several things that are important. First, don’t talk. Allow the video to capture the natural sounds of what is going on. After you’ve done that, add a brief narration. This will tell the video editors back at CNN what they are seeing. This is how you provide context and accuracy for your B-Roll.

Secondly, when shooting B-Roll, don’t provide an excessive amount of movement. Start by showing something important and remain motionless for at least ten seconds. With the camera or smart device still recording, pan or turn the camera slowly for about five seconds, then stop and hold the scene for another 10 seconds. This gives the video editors several options. As you look at my tutorial video, you’ll see that sometimes I also walk while taking the B-Roll.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf,  so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

Tutorial #17: Using SKYPE.com for Live Reports on CNN & HLN

Tutorial #17 by Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

My goal in these tutorials is to first encourage public relations professionals, corporate spokespeople and Public Information Officers (PIOs) to file CNN iReports as part of your crisis communications strategy and media relations plan. My second goal is for CNN to then reach out to you and extend an invitation for you to be interviewed live, on the air, during one of the CNN or HLN news programs.

These days, they will likely ask you to be interviewed via Skype.

If you are unfamiliar with Skype, visit www.skype.com and download the free application for you computer, smart phone and smart tablet.

The app allows you to make regular phone calls to regular telephone numbers, or it allows you to make a call from computer to computer with voice only, or you can set up a video chat from computer to computer.

CNN and the other news outlets want you to know how to set up the video chat.

Start by downloading the app. Next, set up your profile. Much like most social media sites, you can add your contact information and a photo.

CNN producers will then either call you or ask you to call them at an assigned time, during the news program. When it is time to go live, your Skype call is what the audience at home will see.

Take a look at this specific video tutorial to learn more.

The quality of the image on Skype varies, based on the strength of your internet signal. Sometimes the image may freeze while you are live on the air. Sometimes the call will get dropped completely.

The networks know they are taking a risk when they do a Skype call, but if your location and event is news worthy and they have no news crew of their own nearby, they are willing to take the risk.

In one of my previous tutorials I mentioned that a set of ear buds or a USB headset can be useful during your live report. If you use these, you will need to find the audio button on the Skype software and select input and output for the headsets, rather than using the computer or smart device’s external speakers and microphone.

The secret to getting it right is to practice on a clear sunny day, rather than attempting to learn the hard way under the time constraints of a crisis and significant news event. Set up your account, study the account until you know all of the buttons you need to push, then establish a call between you and a colleague so you can practice.

During your practice, you’ll want to incorporate many of the other lessons you’ve learned through these tutorials, including managing audio, lighting and movement, as well as what to say.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

 

Tutorial #15 Determining When to Use Ear Buds and Headphones for Interviews on Your iPad or iPhone

Tutorial # 15 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

One of my goals in this series of articles and video tutorials is to help you, first file an online news report about your crisis, which then would lead to a live interview. This is geared toward news events where you work that could get national news coverage, and this is geared toward spokespeople, public relations people and Public Information Officers (PIOs) with government agencies.

If CNN sees your iReport and they like the content, a CNN producer will visit your profile page on CNN.com. They will collect your phone number and e-mail address and contact you, asking you to be a live guest on one of their programs.

Once a SKYPE connection has been established, you must be able to hear the producer talking to you and you must be able to hear the news anchors talking to you. If you are in a quiet location, you can turn up the volume on your smart phone or tablet and likely hear them just fine. But if there is a lot of background noise or blowing wind, you may find it necessary to use ear buds to hear the producers and news anchors.

Some ear buds have a built in microphone, which is optimal. Chances are, if it is too noisy for you to hear them, it may also be too noisy for them to hear you.

One option I select in some of my live reports is to use a USB SKYPE headset with my laptop. These headsets plug into my computer’s USB port. The headsets have earmuffs, that block out external noise so I can hear the news producers and news anchors. It also has a microphone on a flexible arm that gets very close to my mouth. This microphone makes it much easier for them to hear me, without them hearing the background noise.

Watch today’s video tutorial to learn more.

The ear buds come free with most smart devices. The USB headphones can be purchased at any electronics retailer.

As with all of the skills shared in these tutorials, you’ll want to practice on a clear sunny day by having a SKYPE call with a colleague. Don’t wait until the day of your crisis to try to sort out the technical aspects of this. The networks give you only one change to get it right. If you blow it, you are blacklisted and they will call someone who knows what they are doing.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

Tutorial #14: Framing and the Rule of Thirds for Your Web Videos

Tutorial #14 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

Think about your vacation photos and videos. When you are in the image, do you see just a little of you and a lot of other stuff around you? Is your head in the middle of the picture, with your body at the bottom, and a bunch of sky above your head?

If so, you are likely not framing your images properly.

Photographers and videographers generally practice what is known as the rule of thirds. Photographers, especially when framing an individual in a photo or video, leave no space for sky above your head. Your hair or forehead fills the top of the frame. Your nose generally fills the center third. Your chin and neck would then fill the bottom third.

While this addresses the horizontal elements of your image, you must also consider the vertical portions of what you have framed. Often, you fill the left or right third of the frame, leaving the other two-thirds as positive space to your left or right.

Much of the poor framing we see today is the result of an entire generation of people using digital cameras. Because the yellow focus square in the viewfinder is in the middle of the viewfinder, most people stand far away from the person in the photo, then frame their head in the focus square. This is horrible. Stop doing it.

Step forward and get closer to the person whose photo you wish to take, then frame it as I have described above.

This is best understood by watching today’s tutorial video.

As with all of these video skills, you must practice in order to get it right. So after viewing the tutorial, take out your smart phone or tablet and record a video. You can also go home to your computer and look at some of your old photos. You’ll likely see that you’ve been framing pictures incorrectly for a long time… but soon you’ll be doing it right every time.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

 

 

Tutorial #13 The Secrets to Good Audio for Your Web Videos

Tutorial #13 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Tutorial 13 Still Gerard BraudHave you ever watched a video you’ve shot, only to be surprised that you can hear other people talking in the background, or that the roar of the wind drowns out what you were saying or wanted to hear?

When shooting a video for a CNN iReport, for YouTube, or for any other use, you must be a multi-tasking expert. As you talk while recording the video, you must be listening as well.

Are dogs barking in the background? Are church bells ringing? Is someone nearby talking loudly on a cell phone? And the big one, is the wind blowing so hard that it drowns out your voice narration?

View today’s video tutorial to see and hear examples of all of the above.

As you’ll see in the tutorial, you have several options, including your ability to turn your back to the wind or face the wind, if wind is your problem. The correct answer depends upon where the microphone is located on your device. Another option is to use a small microphone that plugs into the headphone jack of your smart phone or tablet.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.