Tutorial #15 How to Prepare for a Live Skype Interview with Local or National Media

Tutorial # 15 By Gerard Braud

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

In this series of 23 articles and videos, you will learn the skills needed to film and publish an online news report video about your crisis. If your event is newsworthy and your video is shot professionally, it could lead to a live interview with local or national media.  If you are a spokesperson, public information officer (PIO), public relations professional or government agency, you should highly consider this process as a part of your crisis communications and media relations strategy.

If CNN sees your iReport and they like the content, a CNN producer will visit your profile page on 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 #13 How to Get Good Audio for Your Crisis Communications Videos

Tutorial #13 By Gerard Braud

Tutorial 13 Still Gerard Braud

Creating smartphone or iPad videos for effective crisis communications is something that is not being done by enough Public Information Officers (PIO), Emergency Managers, government officials or corporate spokespeople. Quite possibly, these groups of people are not creating videos because they have not been trained in doing so.  This series of 23 tutorials shows you some of the basic elements of creating your own selfie videos, as well as some of the more difficult elements, such as lighting and sound. These factors are a critical part of creating a professional looking and sounding video so that you can communicate effectively to your audiences in your crisis.

Have 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.



Tutorial #6: Crisis Communications Technology for Hurricane Season

Tutorial #6 by CNN iReporter Evangelist Gerard Braud

Tutorial #6 Gerard Braud

Click image to watch video

In order to shoot your own videos to tell the story of your crisis, it is crucial that you have the right technology. Having the right crisis communications tools will help you communicate quickly and effectively to your audiences on your darkest day, whether your organization faces a hurricane, tornado, or a smoldering crisis.

As an iReport Evangelist, my favorite 2 iReport tools are my iPhone and my iPad. These are my favorite crisis communications tools as well.

You are welcome to use any brand of phone or tablet you like, as long as you can

1) Take video of yourself with it

2) Upload that video to the Internet.

Getting to the internet means you either need a reliable Wi-Fi signal or a good G3 or G4 signal on your device.

Raw video, also known in the news business as B-roll, is one type of image you can send to iReports. They also accept still photos. However, my favorite approach is to do a traditional television news style reporter standup. Standup is the TV term for the reporter walking and talking on camera.

Tropical Storm Lee iReportSome early generations of smart phones only allow you to use your phone screen as a video view-finder while you take a picture or video of something in front of you. Ideally, you want a smart phone or tablet that has a two-way camera — the one that allows you to hold your tablet or phone at arms length while you see yourself on the screen.

Your goal in the standup should be to make it short – usually 38 seconds. The short length makes it easy and fast to upload. Sometimes longer videos will not upload because of a lack of bandwidth, especially during a crisis or during bad weather. When doing a standup, your goal should also be to walk, talk and provide information in a quotable nugget, just as you will learn if you have ever been through a media training class. Because of this technology and demand, I’ve changed the way I teach media training classes to teach spokespeople how to walk and talk and deliver great information in a quick nugget. As you deliver your standup, you must also speak in a conversational tone and not in a stiff, rehearsed sounding voice.

Because my goal is to convert my iReports into Live interviews, I also have the right software. Skype on my iPhone and iPad, connected to the web, becomes my source for broadcasting Live. This means that you need to set up a Skype account on a clear sunny day, before you ever actually need it. Just like any other technology, you have to practice using it in order to get it right when you need it quickly in a crisis.

When I report Live for CNN, I’m asked to call one of their many Skype numbers. When I report Live for The Weather Channel, they phone my Skype number.

Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhoneThe iPad is my favorite out of my 2 devices, because I love the size of the screen and the quality of the camera. However, it is heavier and harder to hold. Some iPad cases make it easier. Several companies also make iPad tripod devices. While a tripod provides a steady image, the downside is that you are unable to walk and talk to tell your story. In rainy conditions, the iPhone is easier to keep dry. You can use a baggie with a hole cut in it for the camera.

In our next article, you will learn what types of stories get the best attention.

If you have questions, tweet me @gbraud or send an e-mail to



4 Tips to Avoid the Worst Sentence in a News Release

wall-1312336_1920By Gerard Braud

The worst sentence to begin a news release is, “We are excited to announce…”

If you hire a so-called public relations expert to write your news release and they write this, you should fire them. If you have written this yourself because you’ve seen others do the same thing, please stop.

Nothing says you value yourself more than your audience or customers than the dreaded, “We are excited” sentence.

In the world of customer satisfaction, your goal should be to celebrate the joy and benefits that you bring to your customers.

Here are 4 tips to avoid the worst sentence in the world:

1. Stop writing it.

2. Begin your news release with a customer-focused sentence, such as, “If you need XYZ, your life is about to get easier because of a new product/gadget being introduced today.”

3. Measure your “I”/”we”/”you”/”them” use. Your news release should contain more sentences that focus on the customer than the company.

4. Measure your “how” to “why” use. Stop focusing on how your product works and focus on why it improves the lives of your customers.

There is no doubt that the internal decision makers are excited. But the key to better sales is to make the consumer excited. When the customer gets excited they buy. When they buy then you can really get excited.




Photo credit

6 PR Questions: Are You a Rug or a Flying Carpet?

Gerard Braud * 15By Gerard Braud

In your public relations and communications role, which are you? Are you a rug or a flying carpet?

My dream is for you to soar as a PR expert, being both a thought leader and a brilliant, innovative, practitioner of your craft. My fear is that you let the so-called leaders in your company walk all over you, dictating what you can and can’t do.

Here are 6 questions to help you determine the answer, if you don’t know it already:

#1 Do your corporate leaders comprehend the monetary benefit of what you do OR do they see you as a financial burden?

#2 Do you hear “no” so often that you are feeling defeated and underappreciated? OR do you get summoned on a regular basis to serve as strategic council?

#3 Is it hard to focus on your tasks and know what your goals are because your leaders spontaneously throw new tasks at you? OR Do your leaders give you room to develop a communications plan with strategic goals and editorial calendars?

#4 Are you in constant reactive mode to emerging issues and crisis communications? OR do your leaders encourage preparation by having a crisis communications plan tested with crisis communications drills?

#5 When it is time to do a media interview, do you hold your breath fearing what your leaders may blurt out to a reporter? OR do your leaders willingly participate in media training and actively prepare for an interview?

#6 Do your leaders lump together tasks such as marketing, graphic design, internal communications, public relations and social media? OR do they recognize that unique talents and skills are needed to properly master each task?

If you are agreeing with the negative premises above, then you are a rug. You allow your employer to walk all over you. You are in a low place. You probably hate your job. Chances are you need to hire a headhunter and find a new job.

If you are agreeing with the positive premises above, then you are a flying carpet who can soar in your career. The sky is the limit. Life is good and rewards will follow.

Life is too short to be unhappy. The decision to control your happiness should be in your hands and not the hands of someone else.

3 Key Human Resources Considerations & 5 Strategies for Employee Communications in a Crisis

Gerard Braud Crisis Plan VideoBy Gerard Braud –

You’ve heard HR leaders and executives say it many times, “Our employees are our number one asset.” If this is true, should those same employees also become your most important audience when a crisis strikes?

An increasing number of HR departments are taking the lead in crisis communications planning to make sure employee engagement is maintained in crisis communications plans.

Public relations teams traditionally wrote and executed a corporate crisis communication plan. In most plans, communications were targeted toward the media.

But the time has come for human resource professionals to forge a stronger partnership with each public relations team. Corporate crisis communications plans must ensure proper and equal communications to the media, employees and social media audiences.

Here are three considerations:

Consideration #1: Employees use social media apps on their personal smart phones. This means they can quickly disseminate facts or rumors about your company’s crisis.

Consideration #2: Haters love to spread rumors on social media, which if read by your employees, can cause employees to doubt whether the corporation is communicating the truth to them.

Consideration #3: With each minute that you fail to communicate to your employees and the outside world, your corporate reputation and revenue are being damaged.

Years ago the media were the most important audience in a crisis communications plan.  They were the pathway to get your message to the masses, including your employees. But that has changed, beginning with the advent of e-mail, the web and Intranet sites. Each created a direct pathway for effective employee communications. HR and PR were able to share the responsibility for daily employee engagement.

These same tools should be your primary crisis communications tool.

HR and PR should want employees to get their news, especially about a crisis, from the company, rather than the mainstream media or social media.

Sadly, the norm seems to be that corporate executives make the mistake of thinking that when a crisis strikes they can gather critical executives in a room and hash out a strategy and write a statement. This doesn’t work and it is a recipe for disaster. When time is of the essence there is no time for impending disagreements, personality conflicts, and fights over commas and semantics in news releases. But that is exactly what happens when executives are arrogant enough to think they can “wing it” on the day of their crisis.

It is far wiser to spend a few dollars to prepare, than to watch large sums of money disappear because of falling stock prices and dropping sales, precipitated by a void in timely communications during a crisis.

While your company likely cannot communicate at the speed of Twitter, a reasonable goal is to issue your first statement to the media, employees and other stakeholders within one hour of any crisis going public.

What should you do if you are in HR?

1) Meet with your public relations team and make sure the company has written a crisis communications plan.

2) If there is no plan, partner with PR to write a plan that provides specific steps to communicate with the media, employees and key stakeholders.

3) Ensure that your plan is built for speed, by writing a library of pre-written news releases, constructed with a fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice format, in order to speed up your communications.

4) Establish a policy that states your employees and the media will get identical information at the same time. Never give employees information that is not provided to the media. Also, never give employees any information before giving it to the media.

Posting your official statement on your corporate website lets you provide links by e-mail to all employees and media with the click of a button. The same link can be posted to social media.

5) To perform flawlessly during your crisis you must practice when there is no crisis. Test your crisis communications plan at least once a year with a crisis communications drill.

Surprisingly, many companies do not see a need for a crisis communications plan until it is too late. Of the companies wise enough to have plans, many have failed to update their plans to emphasize the speed, urgency, and importance of communicating with employees.

If your employees are your greatest priority, you should provide them timely and honest information when a crisis strikes.



Media Interview Mistakes of Jeb Bush: The Sequel

jebbushrenoBy Gerard Braud

In yesterday’s blog we talked about the impact a bad media interview can have on a spokesperson, whether it is a candidate running for office or a corporate executive. In the article, we examined presidential candidate Jeb Bush and his interview with Fox News.

One additional aspect of a bad interview is our lesson today, as it plays out in the current news cycle. University of Nevada student Ivy Ziedrich challenged Jeb Bush in Reno, asserting that his brother George Bush’s decision to invade Iraq has given birth to ISIS.

What we see in this example is that a bad answer that makes headlines one day extends into more news cycles the next day. Rather than being able to focus on current issues and moving the conversation forward, Bush has to repeatedly focus on his past statement. This is a problem that many political candidates fall into. Bush is not the first and he will not be the last.

When your goal is to drive forward as a CEO, an executive, or a businessman or woman, it is difficult to see the road ahead when you have to deal with what is in your rear view mirror. Don’t let one misplaced statement harm your reputation or revenue.

The Crisis Management Wake-up Call for Communities, Government, Law Enforcement and Business

baltimore policeBy Gerard Braud

Generally we talk about crisis communications. But sometimes, we need to talk about crisis management. If we manage a crisis to keep it from happening, then we don’t need to communicate about it. Often, crisis management can begin by looking at case studies.

The crisis in Ferguson, Missouri should have been a wake-up call that should have prevented the Baltimore riots from happening. The Baltimore crisis should be the wake-up call that prevents the next community crisis from happening. These are only two community crises that should warn us all that more will follow, if crisis management action isn’t taken.

Most amazing to me is how frequently police officers are caught on video these days doing something wrong. A law enforcement agency can have 1,000 perfect officers, but they only need one rogue police officer to bring an entire department and community to its knees. The number of unjustified shootings and arrests being captured on video is astounding. Each becomes a high profile example of a growing problem, regardless of all of the many justified arrests made by officers.

The margin for error is small. Wake up. Video cameras are everywhere. This is not a suggestion that officers need to learn how to avoid being recorded and caught. This is a suggestion that crisis management in communities must begin with self correction of bad behavior. Good cops need to weed out the bad cops. Police departments need to establish new integrity standards to weed out the bad officers before their behavior paralyzes another department and community.

Likewise, elected officials and police chiefs in every community need to enact crisis management techniques designed to aggressively weed out the rogue individuals who wear a badge. The high cost of human life and community destruction demand it.

As part of a crisis management strategy, elected officials need to start managing the crisis of poverty, under-performing schools, unemployment, and other community problems. No small task, but again, the high cost of human life and community destruction demand it. Aggressive policing in a high crime area doesn’t correct the problem, it only treats the symptom.

Preventing a crisis is economically more affective that dealing with the crisis and the aftermath.

Those of you in business, likewise, need to exercise your own crisis management by meeting with elected officials and law enforcement to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they are taking action. Their failings hurt you financially.

Businesses and business groups can also take direct action in communities to improve the quality of life, without waiting for government to lift the heavy load alone. Business groups can circumvent government to establish community centers, youth mentorship programs, and job training programs.

As we’ve seen in Baltimore, Ferguson and other communities, businesses are incapacitated and often destroyed when the crisis gets out of hand. Business pays a heavy price.

As it stands now, Ferguson and Baltimore have ignited the fires of frustration. Each serves as a model for the next community to follow. Now that the die is cast, you can expect each sequential crisis to be bigger than those before it.

The task of proactively changing a community is difficult. Failure to tackle the difficult task is costly.

What will you do?

When “It” Hits the Fan – Hurricane Season Readiness & Effective Communications

hurricane seasonBy Gerard Braud

Forecasters are watching for what might be the development of the first hurricane of 2015.  This happens just as the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association (LEPA) meets in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in advance of the official hurricane season.

I’m delivering the opening keynote presentation to LEPA emergency managers this morning as we look at how effective communications is changing. Emergency managers are being called upon to not only use all of their traditional crisis communications methods, but how to also incorporate social media and mobile technology.

Whether you are part of this group or not, you can take advantage of the lessons being shared using the resources below.

I’ve prepared two handouts for the group, which can be downloaded here:

Weathering the Storm

Leadership When “It” Hits the Fan

If you’d like to perfect your skills for creating effective videos to communicate with your audiences during a disaster, I encourage you to watch this 23 lesson tutorial.

Also, when a crisis strikes you you need to hold a fast news conference or issue a fast statement, I strongly recommended that people use my first critical statement as a fast alternative to writing a formal press release. To get a free download use the coupon code CRISISCOMPLAN when you select the item from my shopping cart.


4 Considerations When Speaking About the Baltimore Crisis

baltimore riots 2By Gerard Braud

What do you think about the crisis going on in Baltimore?

Before you verbalize your answer, think not just about your answer to the question, but also the impact your answer could have on the reputation and revenue of your business. This is especially true for those of you who are in businesses that involve face to face contact with customers. While it is true that society needs to have discussions about the important issues of the day, what degree of caution should you consider in voicing a strong opinion to a customer who strikes up a conversation with you? And, what should be the guidelines for you or your employees when you consider whether it is appropriate to strike up a conversation with a customer?

Anastasia Turchetta is a Registered Dental Hygienist and host of Hump Day Happenings, a video blog for the dental industry.

Small business owners, such as her dental clients are faced with two situations when top news breaks. Situation one is that a customer may initiate a discussion about the controversial issues of the day. Situation two is that the business owner or their employees initiate a discussion.

This raises four questions:

1) Is this the right time and place to talk about these important issues?

2) Could the conversation result in the customer getting angry and taking their business somewhere else?

3) Is that a risk you are willing to take?

4) What advice should be given to business owners and their employees?

If an event affects your reputation and revenue, a crisis exists, in some degree. If customers elect to buy goods or services from someone else because they feel slighted by your business, then you have an emerging crisis.

In the video blog, Anastasia reminds us of what many of us were taught by our parents, which is to never talk about religion and politics.

In addition to the decision you make about having controversial conversations with your customers in person, you must also think about the personal opinions a business owner and their employees post to social media. Be especially aware of those employees who have accepted friend requests from customers.

Each employer, whenever there are hot button issues in the news, should consider what they should say to their employees face to face, as well as on social media.

My advice is that if you are passionate about the issues of the day, seek out the proper venue or community group to enact change. But consider carefully how your personal opinions and those of your employees will affect your livelihood, revenue and business.

I personally know of many case studies in which entertainers, celebrities and business owners have been put out of business and lost all they owned because of how and where they voiced their opinions. Consider what price you are willing to pay.