Lame spokesperson ruins your pitch


A common lament I hear from even the best PR pros goes like this:

“I bust my tail to book the interview, and then our spokesperson blew it by [insert interviewing fail here].”

But Teri Bond just enjoyed the opposite experience. The Art Center in Pasadena where she does PR appointed a new second-in-command. Teri used her skill, considerable experience and relationships to secure an interview for the new leader with the LA Times. This feat was tremendous in any age, but even more so now when the Times newsroom is a shadow of its former self.

Teri and her spokesperson were so well prepared and gave the reporter such good information and quotes, that the paper ended up running the piece as a Q&A laden with their key messages. The administrator’s vision of “creative activism” (a great tagline for an art school) even made it into the headline!

Teri is a longtime member of my Inner Circle mentoring group. This month’s exclusive training for Inner Circle members focused on preparing spokespeople so they deliver when you put them in front of the camera or on the phone.

My guest expert was Mark Bernheimer, former CNN national correspondent and media trainer of thousands of athletes, celebrities, politicians, executives, doctors and everyone else.

Mark helped restore our confidence that media interviews can still be a win-win, even in the age of Trump. We don’t have space to cover all the golden nuggets he taught, but here were two that especially resonated with the members:

Does your overly confident spokesperson think they’re already great at media interviews and resist media training? Mark says don’t call it “media training.” Call it a “message development session,” to ensure that everyone is on the same page about what you intend to accomplish with the media interactions.

Does your spokesperson ramble? Or simply struggle to speak in sound bites?  When Mark assumes the role of a reporter during a media training practice session, he says, “One of us is going to edit you. It can be me, as the journalist, or it can be you, by you focusing your words on what you really want to say. It’s up to you.”

And the war stories he told! The Hollywood diva brought her mom to the media training? The famous golfer who ignored Mark’s advice until the first question during the first interview proved Mark right? Those and the detailed training tips he taught are available only to members of the Inner Circle –  join now and you can be reviewing it later today.

Mark’s newsletter is one of the few I open as soon as it hits my inbox. Check out “Media’s Masters and Disasters” and sign up for it on the right side of this page, halfway down.

If you like it as much as I do, hit reply and tell him you want him to write more often 🙂 Together maybe we can squeeze even more great advice out of him.

This article was originally published on Aug 23, 2018.