Chris Jensen Interview courtesy of @Intelivideo

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Want to make sure you deliver all of your talking points? Want to have the “Last Word”? Here’s a simple and effective tactic used by Chris Jensen of Chase for Business in Denver, CO.  At the end of an on-set interview during Denver Startup Week, he realized he had one more thing to say so, when the thank you’s came from the hosts he quickly but politely interjected “… Can I say one more thing?”  they of course accommodated him and he made his comment relatively quick.  The host was right “that was a good closer!”                

Our only critique? Don’t ask! If you really want to get one final message or talking point across just say “and let me add one more thing…” OR  “..before we go, I’ve got one more comment to make…”

Unless the producers are REALLY pressed for time the hosts will almost ALWAYS let you make that final comment. If they don’t, they risk looking rude themselves. Most anchors don’t want to be seen in that light. So, go for it, have that last word!   

I think we can all see by the many headlines where this one went bad! The Commissioner of the NFL, on a talk show to promote the season kickoff was asked about quarterback Colin Kaepernick who is without a job at the moment. Many believe he’s unemployed not because of his football skills but because of his controversial decision to protest social injustice by kneeling each week during the national anthem. Goodell was asked whether or not Kaepernick should be on a roster. Here’s the edited clip:

                                       

Talk about bad optics!! Though his comment can easily be taken out of context (he meant he’s not a “talent” evaluator) Goodell was widely panned for his choice of words. And considering the too many to name here controversies the NFL has been involved in lately, it only adds fuel to the belief that the commissioner is doing a sub-par job leading the most popular sports league in the world.

The lesson, be prepared and choose your words wisely or EVERY headline afterwards will include the quote that gives the impression you’re wearing a red clown nose …and bury any message you wanted to deliver in the process!

 

 

 

WH Advisor Stephen Miller faces off with CNN’s Jim Acosta

One week ago, I planned on writing about the godsend that was Anthony Scaramucci – an outspoken, ill-mannered alternative to the irreplaceable Sean Spicer – but alas, he lasted only 10 days! However, knowing the communications gaffes and mixed messaging this White House is prone to, I figured It wouldn’t be long before some media training ammunition was spent.

It came in the form of a dust-up between White House adviser Stephen Miller and CNN’s Jim Acosta. The showdown took place during a briefing held to trot out the administration’s new immigration policy. The nearly 7-minute back and forth has been described as going “completely off the rails”. That is accurate.

Here’s most of the clip: (Note, as bad as it was – surely it will be surpassed by another more shocking incident in the near future)

 

Both parties are to blame for turning up the heat. Acosta clearly displayed his disdain for the new policy. He’s been fighting with and criticizing the Trump White House for the better part of 6 months, a media bias that many scream, should not exist. He’s also been accused of “grandstanding” and by quoting the poem on the Statue of Liberty and telling a story about his father, it appeared to some he simply chose a side and held court. Those type of “questions” or statements, play better during an opinion/analysis type show (like for instance, the many he appeared on after this incident).

On the other side, Miller committed the sin of all sins when trying to communicate one’s message. Job number one that afternoon was to be an advocate for a new immigration policy, to present it to the American people by successfully delivering the merits of the proposed action. Maybe more importantly to present it to Republicans in Congress who will have to fight hard to pass the eventual legislation. Instead, he attacked the reporter on a personal level and never even bothered to defend the actual policy during the exchange. Had he used some talking points here, no matter what Acosta was asking, he may have been able to save the roll out. But he muddled things further by name calling, accusing Acosta of bias, ignorance and confusing the narrative. Miller may have begun his press conference by laying out the policy but by the time the back and forth with Acosta was over no one remembered a word he said with regard to immigration.

Sure, his rant fired up the conservative base and it may have made his boss in the Oval Office happy but it did nothing to help get the policy passed. Miller allowed himself to be pushed and prodded, straying so far from the actual message he was there to deliver, he wasted everyone’s time, including his own.

 

Why It Matters in Today’s Changing Media World

In this immediate Twitter age, this era of “Fake News” and cable networks that lean toward the political poles there is a supreme need to stand out. One way to do it is to be loud, be controversial, be.. well, polarizing. Of course, if that’s the case you’re probably only being heard by half the audience, the half that agrees with you.

However, if you want to be seen as a go-to expert, no matter the outlet on which you appear or how people perceive your credentials, prepare the way Jeremy Bash prepares!

During the Obama administration Bash was a Chief of Staff at the Department of Defense and before that the CIA. He’s a regular on MSNBC lending his perspective to various political and national security crises. Without a doubt, his ideology leans left and he is critical of the current administration. But, dare I say, no matter the political bent his comments would work on ANY network because they are delivered so colorfully and to the point. The reason is simple, he’s prepared and practiced.    

Take for instance, this exchange with Brian Williams, after a Washington Post report was published alleging the President gave highly classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister during his Oval Office visit. It’s simply soundbites gold!

In his opening sentence, Bash immediately captures the audience (and set off a Tweetstorm of reaction) with his “face palm” analogy. Then, he outlined his reasons why, stating two distinct and clear points for the audience, tying everything together. He actually counted, “1” and “2” keeping everyone engaged. Don’t think for a minute this came off the top of his head! Sure, Bash is paid for these types of provocative comments but in just about 40 minutes of preparation, he clearly thought about the message he wanted to deliver and exactly *HOW* he would phrase it.

Even after the second question Bash used a PREPARED comment, adding even more perspective to his previous opinion with another example of why he thought the news was so stunning and concerning. He held no punches, calling the Russians the “least trustworthy intelligence service on the planet” and throwing in another colorful term with the “golden jewels” description.

The first answer was :32 seconds, the 2nd answer was :22 seconds. In that setting, the perfect time frame which you can bet, was also pre-planned and practiced! Bash came up with a succinct, colorful way to deliver his points right off the bat using his own expertise and experience as a backdrop.

Bash gets a paycheck to deliver his opinion because he has expert credentials, having worked at the highest levels of government, but also because he’s never boring. Here’s a quick clip from the same show 6 weeks ago soon after the White House fired national security adviser Michael Flynn. It’s another example of a descriptive, splashy soundbite that went viral as Bash described how he saw the crisis and the response from Capitol Hill.

Ohh-kaay, He didn’t yell, he wasn’t attacking, he didn’t insult, he simply told a “story” as a way to deliver his expert opinion. Again, soundbite gold! Great examples that illustrate, regardless of whether you’re paid to give your opinion and no matter which side of an issue you lean, you can have an impact. Preparing to deliver your message will always make it resonate with an audience and FRMediaTrain can show you how!  

 

 

We’re often asked, “If I don’t like the way an interview is going, is it ok to walk away?” The answer, 10 out of 10 times the “walk off” will become the story, making it seem, among other things, like you’re hiding something! In the example here, Rep. Rod Blum, from Iowa sat down with a local reporter before a town hall meeting on the vote to replace Obamacare, he didn’t stay long. We’ll add that the congressman was right! The reporter seemed to have an agenda. What the congressman failed to prepare for – was delivering on his *own* agenda – with skillfully crafted messaging. That’s why it’s called media “relations”. We can cite numerous examples of an interviewees walking out on us during our reporting careers and bet nary a one would say after-the-fact, it was better to walk out than “face the music”. It gives such bad, brand damaging optics. Especially with dozens of kids gathered around!

Know going in, you won’t ever be able to predict all the questions you’ll get, which is why it’s imperative to have prepared key messages – goals in mind – to successfully navigate an interview that turns confrontational.

We can teach you how, so you’ll never have to entertain the Rod Blum “Walk Off”.

 

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An unfortunate double whammy here! Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the morning show rounds recently to discuss among other things, the investigation into former NSA head Mike Flynn’s alleged ties to the Russia. Sessions was behind the 8-ball due to Presidents Trump’s tweets and comments that the story is “fake news” while the administration’s own Justice Department is investigating the issue.The mixed messages are compounded by Sessions refusal to offer comment. By passing the buck he seems defensive and uncertain, he even chastises Savannah Guthrie for asking. Sessions could have been more diplomatic, “ that’s not for me to decide – or- my personal opinion is irrelevant, the investigation is ongoing and that result will ultimately determine whether or not it was warranted. Since I’ve recused myself, I’m not able to say more than that ”.

 

 

That revised answer is basically saying “no comment” without actually saying it, which is a good rule to live by if you can’t or don’t want to address a sticky subject. I wonder, had Guthrie asked just one more time, how uncomfortable might it have been?

There’s little debate, we have a runaway winner for the title of Greatest Corporate PR Disaster of 2017! In a year full of them, Uber, Wells Fargo, Pepsi, Volkswagen – as bungled as they all were – they all take a back (row) seat to United Airlines. Social media and news outlets everywhere lit up with outrage and brand damaging chatter when video of a passenger being dragged off a plane by police went viral. The clip here from CNN briefly sums up what happened —-> After that video surfaced the internet jumped on what one crisis consultant called the “Hindenburg of airline customer service episodes”. It got exponentially worse as United committed one communication gaffe after another. Here are just a FEW of the self-inflicted wounds caused by their poor media/PR decisions   

A lack of empathy – even if your brand isn’t at fault, apologize or at least show empathy or frustration for the bad customer experience. United did neither on any of its channels to mitigate the crisis by displaying just an ounce of caring! Twitter would have been a good place to start- that’s where the customer outrage went viral! 

Played the victim blame game – In their first failed attempt at crisis control United released a statement meekly apologizing to passengers for having to “Re-Accommodate” some of them.  The internet went berserk! As in  ” #UnitedAirlines, We put the hospital in hospitality! “

 

 

 

 

They Doubled Down – Then a day later, in an attempt to assuage employees, United CEO Oscar Munoz sent an in-house letter (which was leaked quickly) calling the man who was dragged off the plane “belligerent” and “disruptive” in an attempt to actually justify their actions. Not only did they double down by blaming the customer, even if it is someone else’s fault – pointing the finger is never a good look. The internet crushed United again! The PR damage done to the brand will stick around for some time over a mere $800 (or what could have been slightly more) voucher. How much is your brand’s reputation worth?

 

No customer focus, no action taken – never make it about yourself (remember the BP CEO after the spill in the Gulf of Mexico who wanted “his life back”?) The first 24 hours of any crisis are the most critical for any brand and the most important steps and tactics are your first words or tweets.  Take responsibility, own it, apologize and provide information on your actions going forward to prevent such an incident from occurring again. You can even invite the public to hold you to those promises. 

United, on their third try, three days later, finally got it right. When you are in a hole, STOP DIGGING! 

 

 

In a crisis situation, we say it’s best follow your values, not your instincts – that approach will help you navigate your brand out of turbulent skies! It also pays to have professional help (*** Shameless plug, thanks United! ***) we’ve seen this kind of PR nightmare happen too many times, why wait until disaster unexpectedly strikes?

Let FRMediaTrain help, we GUARANTEE you’ll be more prepared than the “Friendly Skies” were!

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Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of the hit reality show “Shark Tank” is widely thought of as a very opinionated, personable, well spoken guy – even NBA referee’s don’t mind his jawing – most of the time! Which is why it surprised us when we saw this recent clip on CNN. In his first answer to Jake Tapper which lasted about :45 seconds Cuban uttered the dreaded “umm” SEVEN times! Maddeningly distracting – the “crutch” overshadowed his message, which was a critique of President Trump.Cuban was clearly there to talk politics and he obviously has an opinion but it’s also clear he did not prepare well to deliver that critique. Even if you THINK you know your material cold it always pays to develop talking points beforehand.

In just one session, FRMediaTrain can show you the tactics we use to make sure “Umm” doesn’t show up in your answers!

When you are representing a brand, any brand, whether it’s a company or even a political figure like President Trump, you have to be prepared and you have to be on-point. Press Secretary Sean Spicer not only uttered the phrase “I am not aware” 11 times in 80 seconds but then attempted to connect two phrases, “I’m not aware” and “ I don’t have reason to believe” as being synonyms! Are they? Not knowing and not believing are two separate things, but more importantly it goes to show that in any meeting with the press, you always want to be prepared with simple, concise and absolute messaging.  A reporter asking you to “speculate” is one of 6 types of questions a reporter is likely to ask. (see below) FRMediaTrain is prepared to arm you with powerful and practical tips that you can utilize to protect, preserve and promote your brand in any situation. Be Aware!

Boy, does he ever! The Vice President made the rounds of the morning talk shows to promote President Trump’s first major address to Congress. He made 5 appearances that morning and it mattered not what questions he was asked! The Washington Post edited and posted this video and added their own graphics to make the point.

Our point is – Pence did his job. No matter what network the audience may have watched that morning, they received the message the White House wanted to send. Though we could have done without the “broad shoulders” description of the President!