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Communications: Media Training

February 2014

Richard Schwartz

on 19 February 2014

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Transcript of Communications: Media Training

February 2014
Communications: Media Training
Do You Have A Public Relations Department?
They Should:

Step in and offer protection/management during interviews.
Screen media before animal staff are even involved.
Provide intial information to media (copy points & who you are).
Be the liaison between reporter and spokesperson.
Serve as enforcer of animal handling guidelines.
Step in and offer protection during an interview if reporter becomes "unfriendly".
Offer follow up with reporter.
Handle complaints, challenges, etc.
Why do we need to understand and utilize PR?
We do what we can
with the budget we have.
Most or ALL of our funds come from those who come through our gates and/or donate to us.
We will attract support if our message is clear and well understood.
The "P" in PR is not just for PUBLIC
It also means PEER.
We cannot meet our goals in animal care
or conservation
by oursleves.
Protect yourself during interviews.
Screen media before you are even involved.
Provide intial information to media (copy points & who you are).
Be the liaison between reporter and your facility.
Serve as enforcer of animal handling guidelines.
Be ready to deal with a reporter that may become "unfriendly".
Offer follow up with reporter.
Handle complaints, challenges, etc.
You will need to be ready to:
Preparing for an interview.
Determine the goal of the interview

If you were contacted, why does the reporter want to do the interview?

If you reached out to media, were you clear about why you want to be interviewed?

What are your copy points (message)?

Know the program, publication, reporter or host you will be working with.

Know your audience - who watches, listens, or reads the interview you are doing?

If you have never worked with them before get online and search every possible avenue for work they have done in the past, or current content. GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND!

What are the current events in media circulation? Animal welfare? Politics? Science?

Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate! Tough & Challenging questions may come up. Develope good responses that get you back on track.
Types of interviews
Radio (live or taped)
TV (live or taped)

Web video
Social media (guest's home video)
Can take longer.

Might ask same question more than once: Looking for a different answer.

Questions will be more detailed with a request for "exacts" ie. times, dates, lifespan of animal, etc.

May call back with follow up questions.

Errors and mis-quotes happen. Multiple editors or bad writing can cause mis-quotes.

Can sometimes call them to correct if error is significant enough.
Live radio tends to be shorter (2 to 4 minutes). But there are exceptions.

Taped interviews can run long and they will edit the time down later.

Keep in mind, even in taped interviews you should keep answers clear and concise.

How you sound matters! Speech pace & inflection are very important.

Can usually use notes but I advise against it.

MUST be descriptive "Paint the picture with your words." Think of how you would describe things before you get there.
Your appearance matters!

True, you are not an actor or TV personality. You're a keeper and get dirty for a living. However, take the time to be presentable.

You are "ON" as soon as you walk in the studio.

Always assume the mic is "ON" (this includes boom mic's too)

Usually the reporters will ask you questions right before you go live. These are usually the questions they will ask you again during the interview.
Live TV:
Assume you are "ON" when you see a camera. Board operators do error.

What is said is said. There are NO do-overs. If you get tongue-tied or trip over your words. Take a second and say it again correctly and move on.

The segment could be cut short or run long. You never know & the reporter may not know either.

Hit your main copy points (message) early.

Be prepared to keep talking.
Taped TV:
Keep in mind your responses might be edited.

Try for short "sound-bite" answers that get your main points out or help tell the story.

What you say can be edited and appear over other video footage or framed differntly than you intended.

Answer fully, stating their question in your answer to give your answer context. (More for a single stand-up with reporter off camera.)

You may have the opportunity to start over if you feel your answers are too long. Some reprters may even ask you to restate the answer in a shorter sentence.
When In Studio...
You are on their turf - not yours. Assume they all lack animal sense, but be polite about it.

Let them know any staging needs well in advance & again once there. Bump or tease requests can be last minute. Ask for a few minutes heads-up if you need it.

Ask for the mic early, but rememebr you are now "ON" and everyone can hear you, even people you can't see. Safe to assume you are "ON" even if you are not wearing a mic.

There may or may not be a person behind a live camera - cameras can move remotely.

Be aware of what's behind you. Video screen? Will images or graphics spook your animal? Will it match your message and why you are there?
Interview Objectives
Promote an understanding of your event, animal(s), conservation and / or your organization.

Present a positive image of your organization, staff & programs.

To be liked by your audience, (keep in mind the reporter is NOT your audience).

To give correct and accurate information. (What is an eblix?)

To be credible, honest and sincere.
The eblix
Interview Basics
Never lie - even a little.

Never hypothesize.

Don't fake it - if you don't know, say so. Then redirect to what you do know.

Appearances matter for TV, radio, etc. You will be remembered, make sure it's for the right reasons.

Listen to the full question & give a beat before answering.

Be aware of the words coming out of your mouth... "smartest tool in the shed"

You can & should drive the interview - You are in control, "in the driver's seat"

Stick to your key messages or copy points and animal facts.

If you have a PR rep. USE THEM!

There is no such thing as "Off the record."
Some tricks reporters might use.
(Radio or TV) Before the interview, they ask a question that "is off the record" then bring up your answer during the interview.

(Print or taped TV) Conclude interview but do not turn of recorder/camera and start with causual banter. Then lead to a few questions that feel off the record.

Developing Key Messages
*These are usually supplied by your PR or Marketing Dept or staff.
Key Messages are the most important points that you want to make. They should be stated in a simple manner & always positive.
To develop key messages...
Pinpoint Objectives - What do you want to accomplish?

Identify Audiences - The tone & content of key messages should be tailored to the audience.

Review Issues - Focus on the most important or influential issues on your agenda.

Messages - Should be stated as simple thoughts & should be integrated so you can move easily from one to another.

Find Key Message support - Reinforcement of your message; examples, stats, research, personal experience, etc, etc.

Make it memorable - Something that will make a good quote for the reporter and/or stick in the viewer's mind.
Now that you have your Key Messages
Flagging will emphasize the main points you want the audience to remember.

Statements like:

"The most important fact is..."

"Personally, what I really like is..."

"Look. This is the real issue..."

"What we have talked about means nothing if we don't acknowledge..."

"What's really fascinating is..."
What if they start to steer away from my messgae points?
Build A Bridge!
When asked a question or given a comment to respond to that is NOT in line with your key messages or talking points - Build A Bridge!
Answer or respond to the question or statement, but be brief.

Then speak directly to your message or topic.
Example Bridges
Asked about another zoo - "I really don't know about their policies, but at the (Name of your zoo/aquarium/park) we do..."

You just don't know - "I honestly don't know the answer to that question, but what I do know is..."

They bring up out-dated information - "In the past that was the case, but today and for the past X amount of years we do this..."

They point out important facts that may have recently changed - "That used to be the case. But what has recently changed is... and we are responding by..."
What About Tough Interviews?
They do happen and being prepared will make it
a non-issue.
Some "Traps" To Watch Out For
Attempts to create friction between you & your PR rep.

Unscheduled repeat interviews.

Loaded or leading questions.


Absent party quotes.

Repeating the same question - looking for a desired response.

Inflammatory statements used to get an emotional response from you.
Good Ways To Handle The Tough Questions
Your Goals: Stay Calm. Get Your Point Across. Remain Credible.
Show Concern - This shows you understand the audience's needs & concerns.

Be Responsive - Like showing concern, by being responsive to the audience you show you care too. Appearing evasive will hurt your credibility.

Do not get into an argument or become critical. Do not make the person doing the interview appear to be doing wrong for not agreeing with you or understanding your points.

Do not feel the need to speak immediately in an effort to defend your points. The interviewer may want to express both sides of the disscussion before you give your points/messages.
What If It Starts To Get Ugly?
Break the rhythm!

If it seems the questions being asked are becoming aggressive or volatile you can break the rhythm or mood. Do this by responding with, "Let me put this in perspective..." or "Let's step back for a moment and talk about..."

By doing this you are interupting the flow of the questions & defusing the situation without being defensive or arguing. Yes, you will still need to answer what is at hand, but you have removed the emotional edge & hopefully prevented a heated exchange.


***Always be aware of your body language. As keepers and animal care specialists we know that non-verbal communication can tell a lot about what is going on. Thus, be aware of what your body is "saying".
Quick List of Do's & Don'ts
1) Don't say anything you wouldn't say on live TV.
Nothing is off the record.

2) Never say, "No comment."

3) If a question is phrased in the negative, don't
reply in the negative.

4) Don't build to a conclusion. If you have
important facts or copy points that
must be said, say them first.

5) Remain calm & composed - never argue.

6) Avoid jargon. "We feed them browse." Or "When
we process them..." How about "In captivity..."

7) Be honest - no lies.

8) Be prepared.
Break Time!
10 minutes
New Media & Social Media
Web Video & Skype


Social Media
Web Videos
Usually supplemental to a written web piece such as AOL Travel or a Mommy blogger.

Tend to be one person only, maybe two.

Keep in mind, Mommy bloggers could show up with the whole family.

They may be unprepared and ask you for direction. Feel free to "guide them" as much as possible. Maybe even pitch ideas for a good shot. (PR Rep?)

You may be asked to do a solo "Stand-Up" for them.
Blogs & Bloggers
Very much like print interviews...
Possibly different than print in that there may not be a formal deadline or an editor.
Social Media
Zoos, Aquariums, Parks and
Social Media (+Other New Media)
It is fairly new to the animal care community.

Most Zoos/Aquariums/Parks do not fully use or embrace Social Media.

Social Media continues to evolve faster than most non-tech people can keep up.

Some facilities do use it well. Some even have a social media agreement in the employee handbook.
Be Aware Of Your Personal Accounts
If in the past you have spoken on behalf of your employer.
If you identify your employer on your profile.
If you have posted videos and/or photos of yourself at work or working.
Then, what you tweet, comment or post (if it is commentary about your work or the work of others) could be used as a quote.
"Eblix Zoo Employee Says Managment At Zoo Unfit
Animal Activists Concerned For Animal Welfare"
"I swear my bosses couldn't manage their way out of a paper bag, much less manage my department!"
So this Facebook update...
Could become this...
Set up your framing/lighting before the interview and double check the camera & mic.

Look at the camera at all times.

You are "ON" as soon as you log in.

Skype interviews can be live or recorded & edited later.
So simply use common sense
Think twice before you update, comment, tweet or post. "If it's not for Mom or Manager's eyes, it's not for Social Media."

Know the platform of Social Media you are using & how to properly manage public or private settings.
PR also means Peer Relations
We cannot meet our goals in animal care or conservation by ourselves.
During interviews & public talks, what we say about other facilities is a reflection of our own work.

(Same goes for Social Media)
Social Media Is Another New & Important Side of Peer Relations
Twitter and Facebook offer many opportunities to info share, support & celebrate success.
Full transcript