Some of us—make that most of us—who’ve spoken at conferences and in boardrooms consider ourselves to be passable speakers at best. You can’t change your basic character and erase years of habits and phobias overnight, but you can create a mental toolkit that can slowly transform you from a tic-plagued live speaker into a true performer who’s always in sync with an audience.
The key to Mark Zuckerberg’s fine April 10 performance before a Senate committee on Capitol Hill, which resulted in his becoming billions richer when Wall Street approved of what it heard, is something so basic it often is glossed over in PR training courses. While Zuckerberg’s vast resources no doubt helped his preparation, any PR pro can avail herself/himself of many of the same tips and tactics his handlers used.
Anything said during, before or after an interview can appear in a story. In fact, anything said anywhere can end up being reported. Hope Hicks found out that even what you tell the House Committee on Intelligence behind closed doors can end up being reported.
“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip,” gold medal winner Shaun White said in response to a reporter’s inconvenient question about a sexual harassment accusation that eventually was settled out of court. But reporters aren’t paid to stick to a star’s script, usually—the Olympic champion knows that now.
Spacey was accused of a forceful sexual advance by actor Anthony Rapp, who was 14 at the time. Halperin was accused by 12 women of sexual assault and harassment during his tenure as political director at ABC News. Their statements differ in some very important ways.
Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee June 8 was hotly anticipated, to say the least. It was a true high-stakes test of how Comey would bear up under pressure. Most would agree: The man makes a good impression. If you work with spokespeople who are going to have some major questions thrown at them, the morning’s proceedings contain several lessons. Have your media trainee watch the footage, and give them this advice.
With an ever-shrinking pool of full-time journalists to pitch to, it’s harder than ever to get your brand messages heard and covered by the media. As a result, some PR pros have turned away from traditional PR pitching and are taking a new approach: earning media with video content. In this video, Doug Simon, president and CEO of D S Simon Media, interviews Michael Smart, principal of MichaelSMARTPR, on using video to earn media.
Before the debate, some “experts” were advising Republican candidate Donald Trump to tone down his usual blustery public speaking style to sway undecided voters. Some urged Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to attack vociferously, shedding her calming image as a champion of the poor and the middle class and as an experienced governmental actor. Neither candidate listened to the so-called experts.
MSNBC correspondent Mike Barnicle asked Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, “What would you do, if elected, about Aleppo?” To which Johnson responded, “What is Aleppo?” Within minutes, the former governor was being mocked on Twitter and covered by scores of online news outlets, many of which posited that the gaffe was an indication of a clueless foreign policy. From a PR perspective, it indicates a lack of media training.
As the pool of full-time journalists continues to wane, today’s PR professional has to spend increasing amounts of time writing pitches that stand out from the masses. And for all of that effort, when a story does get picked up by a major outlet, it’s buried by a constant stream of other stories—often without enough time for it to generate adequate impressions for the resources spent. Which begs the question: Is it still worth it for PR professionals to prioritize earned media, or should they pour all of their resources into newer media channels instead?