The importance of key messages
by Karen Ainley
When undertaking a proactive or reactive media campaign you should consider planning five pertinent points or ‘key messages’. This will allow you to set the agenda and clearly communicate information.
In many cases the journalist interviewing you might be a generalist and so, by preparing yourself, for example by attending a Mosaic media training course, you can prevent being exposed to any challenging questions.
The trick with all media management is to thoroughly understand the subject matter. If it’s a challenging story, you need to work out if you can turn a negative into a positive. For supermarkets with horse-meat in beef products or toy manufacturers with faulty parts, managing their brand’s reputation would involve lengthy discussions about what needs to be communicated and how.
The first key message you deliver will be the strongest part of the narrative; the subsequent points will support the overall theme but the journalist may not use all your soundbites – remember they have ultimate editorial control.
With a three-minute radio or television interview you should never respond with simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – and never use ‘no comment’ as an answer, though you will have to be aware of legal protocol.
The typical length of your answers to any questions should be 25-35 seconds; this is an ideal length soundbite for both television and radio. If your answers are too short, you risk giving the journalist the opportunity to ask you more questions and take the story in a different direction – one for which you have not prepared.
Ensure each soundbite is a full answer as the journalist’s questions may not be used.
Plan your five key messages and rehearse your responses as if you were being interviewed. Responding to a journalist is trickier than sending out a statement or press release so remember everything you say is on the record and chances are you won’t be able to have ‘another go’ at it, so preparation is critical.
Media Training Courses
Provided by Mosaic’s award-winning broadcast producers and journalists, our media training courses are tailored to suit your needs, constantly keeping abreast of the latest in media and communications’ platforms and techniques.
Our training will prepare you for all types of broadcast interviews, including pre-recorded, live and down-the-line interviews.
With Mosaic Broadcast Skills Training, you will learn about:
- The broad range of new media and communications platforms available
- Understand journalist / producer terminology
- Ensure you get your key messages across in radio, television and video
- How to overcome nerves or concerns about being interviewed by the media
- Make the most of the power of image
- Adapt the message to your audience
- Perform live and pre-recorded radio interviews
- Use soundbites to your advantage
- Prepare and deal with those challenging and awkward questions
- Ensure you are able to be as helpful as possible to an often time-precious news team
- All training will be recorded and full feedback will be given
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