By Margo M. Mateas
The Media Relations Maven
In this time of intense scrutiny, the greatest concern for your CEO should be: how can we increase public and investor confidence in the company and myself? Every CEO needs media training. The problem is that most of them are too proud to do it. Consequently, the media feeds us a constant stream of shifty-eyed executives. Their media appearances do little to improve their public image, and often prove to be their undoing.
How do you convince your CEO to make the commitment to media training? I've found that a few simple tactics often drive the point home. The first one is basic professionalism. Ask your CEO:
"If you had to give a speech about the status of the company to millions of people, would you prepare first?"
Ask your CEO why he doesn't think he needs to prepare for an interview that may be broadcast or read by millions. Remind him that the consequences for speech blundering are momentary.
“Failing to deliver your message in a key media interview, or projecting an image of unreliability or defensiveness can be disastrous -- not only for the company's reputation, but for the CEO herself.”
Position media training as a power performance booster. Athletes train for thousands of hours just to deliver a few seconds of perfection. A media interview is a necessary key to impacting a company's stock price and public image. The best CEOs are those who spend time and effort with a seasoned media coach. They make sure they deliver a masterful performance that sends their message and increases confidence in both the CEO and the company.
Media masters are made, not born. Bill Gates did not come out of the womb a media darling. Despite his multi-millionaire status, he spent hundreds of hours learning how to articulate his company's vision. It took practice to come across as an "everyday guy" –sincere and passionate. If one of the richest men in the world gets media trained, perhaps your CEO won't be as reluctant to admit he could use some coaching, too.
Blame it on the reporter. Play on the CEO's natural paranoia. Reporters may try to veer off track into dangerous territory. Media training centers on delivering your message without allowing the reporter to sidetrack you. Help the CEO remember that he is the star quarterback. It’s his responsibility to carry your message into the endzone, no matter what tactics reporters use to interfere with that goal.