As part of a recent campaign to bring awareness to the tie between opioid substance abuse and Adverse Childhood Experiences, I participated in four or five television and newspaper interviews. While the aired spots went well, I left thinking I could have done better.
After spending a few years as head of the FBI for the State of Mississippi, media interviews don’t usually bother me. By “don’t usually bother me,” I mean things usually go well when you have a Public Affairs Specialist (PAS) helping you prepare!
During a press conference, it was typical to receive a question like, “What is the FBI doing to solve this crime?” Of course, the last thing you want to do at a press conference is reveal your investigative strategy!
Thanks to two expert media trainers at the FBI Academy, Gail Pennybacker and Ken White, we learned ways to answer these types of questions and share our message in a meaningful way. These same steps can help you the next time you’re interviewed regarding your expertise. Remember, television clips are short and succinct. Help the reporter share the message you need everyone to hear by following these four steps.
1) Talk About Your Mission
When the reporter asks, “Why is it important for the audience to care about your message?” you can start with sharing why you are passionate about your topic. Using my work as an example, “My mission is to bring attention to the challenges too many people face as a result of childhood trauma. This trauma, often referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences, has a direct tie to the opioid epidemic and disruptions in the workplace.”
2) Talk About Your Visible and Invisible Work
Many times, people only see you at the big, public events. However, it’s important for them to know you are multifaceted and are fully involved in sharing your cause. Be sure to let people know, “I’ve been speaking at events like the one today [visible], posting on social media [visible], and talking to experts in an effort to learn best practices [behind the scenes] that I can share with everyone.”
3) Talk About What You Need From the Public
We all know it is important to have a call to action. It’s important to focus your call to action in a way that is memorable. The call to action that often resonates with my audience is, “I’m asking everyone to think about how they can see a child with fresh eyes in order to change a child’s life.”
4) Give Thanks
Finally, we often wouldn’t have a venue to share our message without the work of the organizers, event planners and sponsors. Everyone likes to hear, “I want to thank the host and sponsors who worked hard to provide a platform to share this important message and who are committed to making a difference.”
Did I do that during the recent media push? Nope. I defaulted to general responses and didn’t follow my own advice. I was reminded, again, we all have moments of mental lapses or stresses which can get in the way of being our best. I will be ready the next time! You’ve spent a lot of time crafting your message. Now spend some time making sure you are getting your message heard at every opportunity.