The Sunday Times
Simon Brooke, one of our senior media trainers, had a letter published in The Sunday Times last weekend, and it’s prompted some interesting discussion on LinkedIn and directly with our clients. See the letter below:
We provide Media Training for a wide variety of organisations, especially law firms, financial services firms, luxury brands and those in the retail and fashion sector. We also work with charities and think thanks to help with their campaigns and test and develop their messages.
Simon Brooke admits to being an interview nerd. “I’m constantly watching TV and listening to the radio to find good and bad examples of media interviews that we can share with our clients,” he explains. In his letter, he comments on a piece by The Sunday Times’ media correspondent, Rosamund Urwin, about what he describes as the “lamentable state of the political interview”. Simon also advises politicians in the UK and worldwide on their campaigns and, in particular, on the media strategies, so he does find this stuff fascinating!
In his letter, Simon looks at how political interviews have deteriorated into a dull ping-pong match of accusation and obfuscation that switches off the audience and does little to advance our national political debate. We’ve also found that this habit can translate into the media interviews carried out by some corporate spokespeople.
How should politicians answer questions?
Simon suggests that in an ideal world, an interviewer would ask a more thoughtful, inquisitorial rather than accusatorial question of a politician, encouraging the politician to give a more honest, discursive and therefore more satisfying answer.
How does this affect those working in corporate communications and anyone doing a media interview? Well, honesty and sincerity are two qualities that immediately jump out. This, as we always say in our Media Training courses, is the basis of all good communication – do you believe the person who is talking to you?
Simon also explains to those doing our media coaching sessions that politicians struggle to add the kind of examples, anecdotes and stories that the rest of us use in everyday conversations. He advises those speaking on behalf of companies and organisations to use these stories, case studies and examples in their answers; if they can then personalise this content with examples based on their own experience, that’s even more persuasive.
How do our training courses help?
We recently worked with a law firm, for example, where a senior partner was discussing M&A in one of our authentic role-play press interviews. We encouraged her to tell a great story about taking an envelope with the offer from her client down the corridor to where the solicitors of the company to be acquired were waiting. We all know how these deals work, but hearing firsthand in graphic detail what it’s like to make the approach and wait for a reply sounded really gripping and would have worked for any journalist, alongside the figures and the details of the deal. It certainly would have earned that lawyer more coverage in the FT or The Sunday Times than a commentator who just gave a bland, corporate statement.
We also hear those on our Media Training courses talking about how politicians don’t answer the question – and we agree that it’s frustrating. But there are more subtle and intelligent ways of handling difficult questions and maintaining control of an interview that we teach our course participants.
Much of the comment on Simon’s letter has welcomed his idea but suggested that it might be wishful thinking that political interviewers and politicians adopt his recommended approach.
The good news is that with effective Media Training plus preparation and rehearsal, anyone can give an engaging interview and put their messages across while avoiding the mistakes of the modern political exchange and learning lessons from it.
One final point – most of the people who do our Media Training courses tell us afterwards that they never listen to the Today programme or watch Good Morning Britain with a politician in the same way again.
Media Training London
Simon and our other media trainers here at Communicate are seasoned in providing bespoke, detailed and useful Media Training. So do not hesitate to book yours today!