Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book 11 of 52 in 52: The Media Training Bible - Brad Phillips

The Media Training Bible was not on my original list of 52 Books in 52 Weeks, but when I was given a chance to read & review it, I couldn't pass up the chance. Speaking with the media takes a skill-set beyond public speaking, much like being a newspaper writer is different than a novelist. In addition, it's a skill I'm still working at mastering, as anyone who has heard an occasional long-winded podcast interview with me would know.

Brevity and clarity are the two over-riding themes in the book, and Phillips has laid the book out in an ideal format - 101 tips, each just two pages. He provides short examples and case studies, including corporate, celebrity, and political examples as needed, but doesn't overdo it - ultimately sticking to exactly what we need to know.

His eight sections help the reader go exactly to the spot they may need in the moment, making the book a valuable resource for last-minute reminders and preparation.

Section I: Eight Ground Rules For Dealing with the Media

Covers the rule of thirds, deadlines, no comments, going off-the-record, and your rights as an interviewee - and serves as a set of 'caution lights' for anyone not quite sure what they are getting into with a reporter.

Section II: Message and Message Supports
One of the main reasons we talk to the media is to get OUR message out, but it isn't their responsibility to do so - it's our responsibility to make sure all we communicate is the message we want out there. Developing that message, and delivering it properly is covered in his CUBE A method - Be Consistent, Unburdened, Brief, Ear-Worthy, and Audience Focused.

Section III: The Interview
There's a difference between offering soundbytes and sitting down for a full interview. More ideas on creating a direct, simple message, not burying the lead, and bringing the best of your message to the audience.

Section IV: Answering Tough Questions

Phillips ATM method of answering questions - Answer, Transition, Message - is my biggest takeaway from the book. Simple, reliable, and focused. He also covers the dangers of 'The 7 Second Stray', 'The Ambush Interview', and discusses answering questions that you don't know the answer to, or require speculation on your part.

Section V: Body Language and Attire
What to wear, make-up, how to sit - all that you might expect, plus gestures, vocal variety, ah's and umm's, and even hair tips.

Section VI: The Different Media Formats
Discussing differences between just about every format used today, from email to broadcast to Social Media to SKYPE, and more. If you don't know what you're getting into, the surprise factor might just throw you off.

Section VII: Crisis Communication: The 10 Truths of a Crisis
We see big companies (and governments) mishandle crisis communication all the time, and the answers seem simple - after the fact. Phillips takes us through several examples, and provides strategies to help move you and your company through the phases of crisis with minimum damage. Fair warning, though, the first step is: 'You're Going to Suffer at First'.

Section VII: Final Interview Preparation
Notecards, research, practice interviews - and even interviewing the reporter before they interview you. Don't go into an interview blind if you want your message to be heard.

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The Media Training Bible was a much better read than I expected - offers excellent ideas and approaches for those being interviewed for the first time, or their 100th. If you are intending to get out into the media with your message, be it through radio interviews, press releases leading to print interviews, or even webinars - you'll be doing yourself a favor reading through this guide, and keeping it nearby, just in case.

If you're working for someone else, and the company comes under fire, and a reporter comes looking for you, this book might be even more valuable, by helping you keep your mouth in line and your job in hand!

5 Stars out of 5.

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