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Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Your spokespeople need media training and I’d like to be your media trainer. There. I said it. I’m asking you to please consider me.

Below are three reasons why my training can offer you techniques that other trainers don’t offer. Plus – if you book your training in November and December 2018, I’ll let you add one extra person to the media training class at no extra charge. Many of you have money in your budget that you either have to spend or you will lose it. So act fast to get your training on the calendar now.

To make the case of why you and your spokespeople can achieve greater results from my media training programs, here are three things to consider.

Consideration #1: Mobile Device News Readers

I’ve adjusted my training to coincide with how people read news on their mobile devices. PEW Research says 85% of older adults read their news on a mobile device. Most people will tell you they only read the headline, the first paragraph, and the first quote, before they move onto something else. In other words, their perception about the news story that might involve your organization is derived from the headline, the lead sentence, and the quote. That is one of my primary points of focus, because it is the essence of a reporter’s inverted pyramid writing style.

More then 15 years ago I pioneered the preamble technique. Initially the preamble was developed to add context to a media interview. Because most reporters ask direct questions and most spokespeople try to respond with a direct answer, often the answer is taken out of context because the spokesperson is never taught to add context. A well-worded, profound, overarching sentence, spoken by the spokesperson as a preamble to their first answer provides context.

Consideration #2: Controlling the Edit

As this preamble technique has evolved, an increasing number of reporters are using the preamble to make up the essence of their lead sentence. And if you know anything about the newsroom, you know that the headline is written by a copy-editor who reads the lead. Hence, if your preamble controls the lead, then your preamble also controls the headline. If you control both of these, you control the perception of the mobile device reader and you control the edit of the news story.

Consideration #3: Strong Quotes

A compelling quote compels a good reporter to put the quote in their news report, as well as to use it early in their report. I promise you that I can help your spokespeople land some amazing quotes. Preamble + Quote = Controlling the edit + Controlling the perception.

Time for a change?

Most media trainers are still teaching spokespeople to focus on three bullet points as their key messages, which leads to bad ad-libs. Most trainers are teaching bad techniques such as telling people to only talk about what you want to talk about, combined with bad avoidance techniques, bad pivots, and bad spin. Guess what? The audience is wise to this and rejects it, just as the media are wise to this and reject it.

What might have worked in the past doesn’t work today. Times are changing. Are you changing with the times? Is your media trainer changing with the times?

If you love your media trainer, please stay with them. If it is time to hire your first media trainer or change to a new media trainer, it would be my honor to talk with you. Please phone me at 985-624-9976 or email me at Gerard@BraudCommunications.com

And remember, if you book in November or December of 2018, when you book a class for four spokespeople I will let you add a fifth person at no additional charge.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

 

3 Key Messages for Communications and Interviews? – MYTH!

https-::pixabay.com:en:business-businessman-finger-show-2962348:In public relations, corporate communications, and media training, the concept of identifying your “Three Key Messages” is often taught.  In other words, what are the three most important things you need to communicate during your interview with the reporter?

But wait, what exactly is a key message? Is it a talking point? Is it a bullet point? Is it a set of words that incorporate more spin than truth? Is it a set of verbatim words that incorporate both truth and quotes?

In my world as a media trainer, it is a set of verbatim words that incorporate both truth and quotes. But many PR pros and media trainers teach only bullet points and talking points. I call this “The Myth About Three Key Messages.”

For instance, imagine a U.S. political candidate in a debate with his or her opponent. The moderator of the debate might ask a question such as, “Please give me your thoughts on education.”

The candidate, whose strategist may have determined that the key messages should only be about energy, the economy, and international relations, is left with nothing to say. Therefore, the candidate will BS his or her way through 50 seconds of a 60-second answer, then conclude by saying, “Education is important and you can get more details on my website.”

STOP THIS BULL!

Each time you give a CEO or spokesperson only bullet points and talking points for an interview, you give them license to ad lib. Have you ever seen anyone who can truly ad lib well? They are few and far between. The person who ad libs is doing what? Winging it! And when you wing it you crash and burn.

Start each interview with three key AREAS that you want to talk about. For each of those areas, you should have learned and internalized several pre-written sentences that are also very quotable sentences. Then, each of those three areas should have three key messages of their own, that are well written, internalized and quotable. And conceivably, each of those three key messages will have three more messages to go with them.

Pretend your conversation is a large live oak tree like you see in the South. Picture that tree with a huge, sturdy trunk and three large branches. Your “Tree Trunk Message” should consist of two sentences that anchor the entire conversation. These are the first words out of your mouth when the reporter asks the first question and they provide context for the entire conversation. Both sentences must be quotable.

Next, write two more sentences for each of those three large branches that grow from the tree trunk. These sentences must also be highly quotable and will add a few more overarching facts and point to other important areas that you may want to talk about.

Now add three limbs to each of the large branches. Then add three twigs to each of the limbs. Then add three leaves to each of the twigs. Ultimately, just as a tree sprouts limbs, twigs, and leaves, your conversation needs to sprout additional sentences with slightly more detail. Draw it out. If you can visualize the tree, you will begin to understand how the conversation grows.

In our analogy, the leaves represent great detail while the tree trunk and three branches symbolize very basic facts. If you invest time to populate your tree with verbatim, quotable sentences that you internalize, you will ace your next interview. Basically, your populated tree has created a full conversation and an interview should be a conversation. It should tell a story.

The Conversation Tree analogy has prepared us to tell our story in the inverted pyramid style – the same style reporters use when they write.

This is not easy. It takes a great amount of preparation. An interview is as important as any business deal. If you could attach a dollar to every word that comes out of your mouth, would you make money or lose money?

Bottom line – know what you want to say, know it verbatim, and be prepared to tell a story.

 

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

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You May Be Guilty of PR Word Vomit

https-::pixabay.com:en:business-adult-people-office-3365365:By Gerard Braud

Before every media training class I teach, I ask the PR team to provide me with their existing key messages. Most are word vomit.

Many public relations people “vomit” every word they can, every cliché they can, and every statistic they can onto the page they submit to me. As you might guess, I have to do major key message re-writes before every media training class.

While teaching interview skills in a media training class, a participating executive provided expert insight to the lesson I was teaching.

“So you don’t want us to word vomit everything we know in a media interview, right?” he asked.

That isn’t how I would have phrased it, but now that I think about it, many spokespeople, and the public relations people who write the key messages for the spokespeople, are guilty of “word vomit.”

When a spokesperson is being interviewed, more is less. You must help them fight the urge to say everything they know about the company or organization.

The more you say to a reporter, the more you subject yourself to editing that you may not like.

It may not be pretty, but today’s media training expert advice is:

  1. Avoid word vomit when you write your key messages.
  2. Avoid word vomit when you are speaking to a reporter in a media interview.

If someone read your key messages right now, would they think, “Ugh. Too much information!”?

If you need help finding the perfect way to write your key messages, check out my “Kick-Butt Key Message” writing program.

 

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

 

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Can David Vitter Overcome Reputational Damage from a Crisis He Created?

By Gerard Braud

vitterIn the world of crisis communications many will offer the expert advice that recovery is about reputational damage and repair. In the current political race for governor in Louisiana this week, the outcome will be decided on the consideration of how long reputational damage lasts and if a request for forgiveness can make the damage go away.

You may wish to watch Louisiana for an interesting case study. U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is reported to have had a fondness for hiring prostitutes in both New Orleans and in Washington, D.C. His opponent, John Bel Edwards (D) has even alleged in a television commercial that Vitter missed a vote in the Senate that recognized fallen service men because Vitter was calling a prostitute. After Vitter was caught, he called a “good wife” style news conference with his wife by his side and did the typical act of contrition with his wife pledging her support as the family would move forward.

Is that enough for a voter to forgive an elected official who might represent them? Think about it, then add another layer. Vitter runs as a pro-family ultra conservative who preaches family values. Does this further damage his reputation when he says one thing and does the opposite?

vit

Click image to watch

So the crisis communications and reputation management question here is how will voters respond? Will a significant number forgive him and vote for him based on his party?  Or will those in his party who say, “I forgive the guy, but I can’t vote for David Vitter because he made poor decisions and therefore isn’t fit to serve as Governor.” Will some in his own party call him out for being a hypocrite? Vitter’s opponent is already running commercials with people essentially saying that very thing.

Here is another consideration: Like Volkswagen, which created a crisis because of misdeeds, Vitter created his own crisis through his own intentional misdeeds. Does that make it harder for an audience or constituency to forgive?

A final consideration is this: When a person or company runs a commercial after a self-created crisis, does the commercial make you think more about the crisis? If you see a Volkswagen commercial, do you immediately think “scandal?” When a Louisiana voter sees a Vitter commercial, do they immediately think “cheater” or “hookers?” When Vitter makes robocalls with his wife and son on the recording, does it make a voter think, “But you cheated on your family?”

Keep your eyes on this news this Saturday to find out the final answer.

BraudCast Answer: What is your best advice to persuade your executives or CEO to take a media training class?

By Gerard Braud

It can be extremely difficult for public relations and corporate communications teams to convince their CEO or executives that one bad interview can severely harm their reputation or revenue. This week the BraudCast question was, “What is your best advice to persuade your executives or CEO to take a media training class?” PR and communications professionals weighed in around the world to share their best practices. Here is what they had to say, as well as my professional recommendations:

 

CEO media training 3Q braudcast

Click image to watch video

 

 

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

BraudCast Question: What is your best advice to persuade your executives or CEO to take a media training class?

By Gerard Braud

CEOs and executives may fear embarrassment in a media training class, they may have a hectic schedule, or can’t justify spending their revenue on a media trainer. Public relations professionals and internal communications professionals often have a difficult time getting their CEO or executives to put media training on their calendar. This week the BraudCast question is, “What is your best advice to persuade your executives or CEO to take a media training class?” Please share your thoughts.

CEO media training 3Q braudcast

Click image to watch video

 

 

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

BraudCast Answer: When should your CEO be your spokesperson?

By Gerard Braud

Public relations professionals and corporate communications managers have weighed in across the globe to answer the question, “When should your CEO be your spokesperson?” Listen to the video to hear their responses as well as my professional recommendations then share your thoughts.

CEO spokesperson Gerard Braud

Click image to watch

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

BraudCast Answer: How quickly do you need to issue a public statement when a crisis happens?

Companies, schools, and various organizations often spend hours writing press releases from scratch and reviewing them with their public relations managers and legal teams before they are ever presented to the media or to their employees. This slow process causes the media to become impatient and begin interviewing speculating eyewitnesses on the street, who may only make your crisis appear worse than it really is.  For effective crisis management and internal communications, how fast should a company release a public statement in a crisis?

Braudcast public statement

Click image to play

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

Tutorial #14 How to Frame Your Crisis Communications Videos Properly

Tutorial #14 By Gerard Braud

Crisis communications videos are rarely created by corporate spokespeople, government officials, emergency managers, or public information officers (PIO). However, they are an extremely effective way to communicate with your audiences in a crisis. You can be the official spokesperson and speak directly to the media about your crisis, rather than an eyewitness on the street who could be speculating or blowing your issue out of proportion. To create a quality video there are many variables, including how you frame yourself on camera.

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 #10 How to Manage the Expectations of Your Audience When Shooting Smartphone Videos During Your Crisis

Tutorial #10 By Gerard Braud

When making smartphone videos or CNN iReports, you need to plan your storytelling. Whether you are  communicating as a public relations spokesperson,  a Public Information Officer (PIO) for a federal or state agency, or for state, county or local government, it is crucial to manage the expectations of your audience. Predetermining and planning your storytelling may not seem like an easy task when it comes to hurricane season or natural disasters, but in this tutorial you will learn to do exactly what I’ve done in the past.

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

As you watch television news, especially live cable news and live breaking news in a crisis, observe the questions from the news reporters, news anchors and members of the media. They want to know how much worse will the event get?

If you recognize this, you can make this a part of your planned story telling,

During Hurricane Isaac, my goal was to manage the expectations of the national audience and the national media so they would know just how bad things would get. For the most part, it was all predictable for me, because I had been to and reported on so many hurricanes during my career as a television reporter. As a resident of Mandeville, Louisiana and as someone born in New Orleans, I had a pretty good idea of what was to come. (Although the 4 10-food alligators, the 50 dead nutria and the thousands of snakes were a surprise.)

Take a look at today’s tutorial to learn more about this, and view some of my Hurricane Isaac CNN iReports to observe what I did.

Electric utility companies are a perfect example of the kind of company that should build their media training and crisis communications strategy around managing the expectations of their audience. Some people in New Orleans were very mad at Entergy of New Orleans when the electric company didn’t have electricity restored to all of their customers on the day following the hurricane. The angry citizens called the media and complained non-stop on social media. Although all were without electricity after Hurricane Katrina, they expected faster restoration after Isaac, which was a Category 1 hurricane. Additionally, restoration to 99% of the customers may be great, but the 1% without power can still cause a public relations problem for a company.

To their credit, Entergy was holding news briefings and using social media where possible. But here is what I would like to see every investor owned utility and every Rural Electric Cooperative (Co-op) say to their customers before any big, predictable weather event:

“This storm will disrupt electrical service. You may lose electricity early as trees fall on power lines or as winds blow power lines down. Your home may survivor the storm, but in the days immediately after the storm, you may be very miserable. You won’t be able to turn on any lights. You won’t be able to cook on electric stoves. If you have an electric hot water heater, you may not have hot water. Your air conditioning (or heating) may not work. And while our electric crews and those from other communities will begin restoring power quickly, we cannot say when everyone will have their lights back on. Furthermore, if the electric meter to your home is damaged or if the electrical wiring in your home gets wet or damaged, it may be weeks or months before your power can be restored. So for that reason, we suggest you follow the advice of your local government and evacuate to an area outside of the predicted disaster zone, then return home when you can once again have modern conveniences.”

That type of statement a) tells it to the audience straight without any public relations B.S., 2) it manages their expectation for how bad things may get, and 3) it gives them a clear reason as to why they should evacuate — because many people are in denial about whether or not the wind or flooding will harm them, but they don’t want to be miserable and without creature comforts.

State, county and city governments can also benefit from this approach. Often government will call for an evacuation for public safety. Many people don’t want to evacuate because a previous hurricane did not significantly impact them. But government should emphasize that no two storms are alike and that a zone that survived one hurricane might be destroyed by the path of another storm. Government public information officers and spokespeople should also emphasize the loss of creature comforts associated with the loss of electricity, water, operating toilets, the inability to cook or buy supplies.

This technique goes hand in hand with my previous article on explaining the compare and contrast of what is and what will be. Please read that article for more valuable tips.

To continue to manage the expectations of the audience before, during and after an event, any corporation or government agency, can do exactly what I did as a citizen — they can create a CNN iReport account and file multiple iReport videos just as I did.

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.