Mastering the art of media interviews, particularly on TV and radio, is a must-have skill for senior executives. An unfortunate slip of the tongue from an unprepared, or under-prepared, spokesperson can wreak havoc on your organisation’s reputation and weaken your brand. Media training is an essential investment, says Bridgid Nzekwu, our head of media training.

Media Training by TNR Communications at the Press Association

Media Training by TNR Communications at the Press Association

Remember Tony Hayward? The former CEO of BP will always be remembered for a monumental cock-up during an interview. He was forced to resign after telling a reporter “I’d like my life back” following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Millions of barrels of oil had poured into the Gulf of Mexico and 11 workers had been killed in the disaster. Yet the man at the helm of the company responsible appeared inappropriately concerned with his own situation.

Hayward has since conceded that BP was “not prepared to deal with the intensity of the media scrutiny…” An astonishing admission. Yet this is a pitfall which any organisation, even those with smaller budgets than multi-trillion pound oil companies, can avoid if their spokespeople are given the right training.

The best speakers are confident, credible and authoritative. They are cool under pressure, interesting to listen to, with a memorable turn of phrase. The good news is, these skills can be learned. Most people are not born fully-fledged media stars, so high quality training is the solution. In fact, the majority of the best media performers in business have had media training. They recognise that it’s just too risky to put themselves in the path of a John Humphries, Jon Snow, or indeed any journalist, without proper preparation.

Knowing how to control an interview is a vital skill. Being trained in effective techniques pays dividends, allowing your spokesperson to make the most of their time on air or in print, rather than slavishly following the journalist’s agenda. Every interview is a valuable opportunity to promote your brand and communicate with customers and investors. In 2013 some ITV1 advertising slots cost over £16,000 per 30 seconds. Consider, then, the value to your business of two or three minutes of air time on the BBC Breakfast business slot or Channel 4 News?

A confident, engaging interview is also a chance to steal a march on competitors and rolling, 24-hour news generates endless opportunities for expert comment. The power of this exposure for a brand is considerable, positioning it as a trusted name in the mind of the audience. Yet many organisations miss out on these opportunities by having too few “oven-ready” spokespeople. Most interview requests come with very little notice, so having several media-trained spokespeople is wise. If your sole front man or woman is travelling, off sick, in a Board meeting or unreachable for any reason, your media capability is severely limited. A chance to put your case or respond to news or industry developments is highly likely to go to a competitor. If their spokesperson performs well, journalists will remember and are likely to go straight to them for comment next time there’s a story. You have possibly lost a whole series of chances to put your brand in the limelight.

The rise of social media has been a game-changer in the way organisations communicate. Twitter, YouTube and social media in general are undeniably powerful channels but they have markedly increased the risks of having untrained or poorly trained spokespeople. Tweets can disseminate a faux pas worldwide in seconds and video clips go viral long before damage limitation can kick in. A poor interview or unguarded comment can damage reputations, tarnish brands and end careers.

The best media training goes far beyond practising answering questions and getting to grips with microphones, cameras and studios. Developing and refining your organisation’s key messages, particularly in times of crisis, is an essential first stage of preparing for an encounter with a journalist. What are you really trying to say to your audience? What will the journalist be most interested in and pursue? How will what you say actually come across in a soundbite? Most importantly, how do you not just survive the encounter but turn it to your advantage, especially if your organisation is on the back foot, for example because of poor financial results or a product or service failure?

These key messages are only effective if they are subtly worked into interviews. Masters at this include Angela Knight, Chief Executive of Energy UK, Justin King, former Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, and Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, all skilled at deftly taking control of the agenda during interviews, even under pressure. Less adept performers, politicians especially, lack effective techniques for handling tricky questions. They alienate their audiences – and make an enemy of the interviewer – by simply repeating their key messages regardless of what they’ve been asked.

Coming across well in print, on camera, or on radio is not merely about saying the right thing. An interview is a performance and, like any good performance, delivery is just as important as content. Tone, body language, even appearance can undermine what a spokesperson is trying to get across. At TNR Communications, bespoke media training includes work on an individual’s breathing, intonation, articulation, posture, gesture and facial expressions, as well as techniques for controlling nerves and eliminating “tells” which betray stress.

Another important factor is the training environment. A spokesperson trained in the comfort and safety of their own office can falter when expected to perform in a studio, where the journalist is on home turf and has an additional psychological advantage. Those who do practical exercises in a realistic setting are much more likely to feel secure and in control when it comes to doing it for real in the ‘Today’ Radio 4 studio or on the ‘Good Morning Britain’ sofa. The lesson here is to choose a training supplier with the appropriate training facilities and strong media credentials to make the most of your investment.

Possessing the right skills is non-negotiable for those who speak on behalf of their organisations. High quality training can transform a spokesperson’s confidence and credibility, developing them from mediocre to outstanding performers in a matter of hours, ensuring your organisation can harness the power of the media.

Post by Bridgid Nzekwu, Head of Media Training @ TNR Communications

Last Friday on 7th November we partnered with the CIPR to host a breakfast event here at the Press Association (PA). We got in the tea, coffee and croissants and lay on a host of speakers for the delegates to enjoy.

Being part of the Press Association we are in the fortunate position where we can call on our colleagues to provide insight into the multi-media world of news and content. Alongside the prestigious company of Jonathan Grun (Editor), Martin Keene (Head of Pictures) and Isabelle Potts (Editor PA Video) TNR provided delegates with an insight into other areas of PA that they can take advantage of.

CIPR GLG at The Press Association/TNR

As the broadcast and content experts of PA we spoke  about how to convey your message and story across a variety of media including video (broadcast & online), radio and photography. While people are aware of the need to create content and stories, they aren’t always as sure how you utilise the media available.

Keeping on top of the news agenda in the world of PR & Comms can be incredibly tricky, so to provide help we had David Fitzgerald from Globelynx who spoke about connecting your spokesperson with broadcast media, and Jeff Jones discussing Mediapoint and how to keep ahead of the news agenda. Being current and reacting in real time is so vital in the industry and having a spokesperson that can speak on behalf of your organisation is vital. The tips and benefits of this were  emphasised by Liz our Media Training co-ordinator.

CIPR GLG at The Press Association/TNR

After the talks had finished we had a Q&A where the audience got to grill all the speakers directly! This was then followed by a tour of the studios, broadcast facilities and of course the newsroom. The morning was a huge success and it was a pleasure to meet so many industry folk.

We are looking at dates early in the new year to run another joint event with the CIPR. Keep an eye on the @LondonPR Twitter feed or get in touch with me for info on future dates.

Post by Alex Waite, Marketing Manager @ TNR Communications

So you’ve come up with a great idea, but you don’t have the facilities in-house to create that amazing video to get the results you need. You need a reputable production company with integrity, honesty, and a track record of producing high quality and eye catching video content to make the most out of your own or your clients investment.

Here are a few things to bear in mind when briefing a video production company:

1. What’s your video objective?

What do you want the video to do – make people laugh, create sales, promote a service etc. The possibilities are endless but it’s important to know why you are creating the video and to have a clear objective for what you want to achieve.

2. Funding

Know your video budget beforehand. Whilst budgets can be restrictive, be realistic about how far your money can get you. While a larger one is ideal for producing quality content, a smaller budget can still get you great results depending on your requirements. The video production company should be able to guide you on best use of the budget and will know how to help you get the most from it.

3. Know Your Target Audience

This is important to bear in mind. Be clear about who it is you are targeting and what it is you want them to do so the production company knows what type of content to create. This goes hand in hand with point 1.

4. Location, location, location

Where will the video be filmed? Studio or on location? Think about what is realistic for your production and what best suits the content you want to produce. The right location and creating the right environment can be vital to the end result.

5. Spokespersons

Depending on the style of video and its purpose, it can be great to use spokespeople from your company rather than actors. They come across as more authentic. However, it is important to make sure they are confident to speak in front of a camera!

6. Timing

Be realistic with the time needed to produce the content. Coming to a video production company in the early stages allows both teams to work together to come up with a schedule and utilise the best ideas for your campaign, right from the start.

7. Stock footage and elements

Do you have any stock footage which might be of use to include in your final edit? You may have produced content before that your production company can make use of, so let them know what you have. It’s also important to share your brand identity so the content created complies with your look and feel.

In Summary…

Whether you already have a clear image of how you want the video to look, or you need advice from the initial stages, it will be helpful to get the above clear before speaking to a production company.

Video is an incredibly impactful way of getting across your key messages and increasing awareness for your brand. There’s so much content on the internet that people will make a decision about your video within the first ten seconds of viewing.

So remember, think straight, have a clear goal of what you want to achieve and follow these 7 easy tips to create great content!

Any Questions?

If you have any other questions about video production you can submit them via Twitter with the hashtag #AskTNR, or fill out the below form. We will take a variety of questions and release the answers in a soon to be released video – stay tuned!

There was some rather interesting research done by the media regulator Ofcom featured in PR Week recently. A survey of 2,731 people showed that 41% of them now accessed news on websites and through apps which has slightly risen above newspapers at 40%.

To be honest this in itself isn’t a shock as the rise of digital consumption is very well documented and still on a steep increase. The part that interests me is whether this will ultimately impact the end client and their perception of success.

For instance in relation to photography, through the Press Association news wires we get PR Photography coverage for our clients in both print and online media. It’s always really interesting to hear the client’s reaction to both sets of coverage, with them frequently placing emphasis of importance on the print success.

Virgin Media's Big Kahuna quad-play bundle launch

Virgin Media’s Big Kahuna quad-play bundle launch – Print or online?

I know there is always the prestige of seeing your PR in print and physically getting the ink on your fingers, but with the continued increase in digital news consumption and the longevity it has online there will surely be a tipping point when clients rank importance of online coverage above print.

It’s also encouraging to see TV still ranking so highly at 75% for news consumption, although there was a slight decline on 2013. I still think that nothing beats a good broadcast PR campaign and while digital is certainly a rising force with online media going from strength to strength, the impact of seeing your PR campaign on TV still can’t be beaten.

I’d be interested to hear what industry folk think; does the client still prefer print over online coverage?

Post by Alex Waite, Marketing Manager @ TNR Communications 

 

 

It’s certainly been a long week in the midst of a bank holiday overloaded month so we thought we’d bring a little something to brighten up your Friday – little being the optimum word!

As you can probably tell from the previous blog, we love animals here at TNR and the more cute animal stories we find the better! And, let’s face it; animals have some sort of super power to make us feel so much better about life in a word which can seem a struggle at times.

This week’s news agenda has been dominated by hard news: the killing of a teacher in Leeds, the tube strikes, the conviction of Max Clifford as well as the inquest into Peaches Geldof’s death. For this reason, we thought we’d bring you a slightly different video – it’s small, it’s cute – what’s not to love about it!

Post by Daisy Bambridge, Project Manager @ TNR Communications 

03.04.2014

Animal crackers

‘Ahhhhhh!’ This is the reaction in our office each day as the newspapers showcase the latest crop of animal pictures from around the world.

The other day we did a count of how many animal pictures featured in the national newspapers and we were quite amazed at how many were used – we counted 34, which is quite a lot considering how much hard news there is right now. The animals ranged from polar bears, horses and tigers to rats.

These pictures aren’t your average cutsie shots of kittens in teacups; these are pictures of animals that add more than a sense of humour to the shots than any sentimental greeting card ever could:

Francois Langur baby at Howletts Wild Animal Park

Some are just fantastically shot images that could easily be considered as a work of art focusing on and accentuating the amazing colours of these creatures, such as the image used on the front page of The Times (below). This shot insists the viewer takes in the majestic beauty of the tigers. The photographer struck lucky when he aimed to capture the tiger and her cub as he also caught a third approaching or even spying in the background, which to me takes the image to another level.

Back in August, which is traditionally ‘silly season’ – an optimum time of the year to get the lightest, picture-led stories into the papers – I noticed that instead of the expected seasonal shots of giant tomatoes and the like, the papers were full of stand-alone images of animals – exotic creatures in their natural habitats and the latest additions to a zoo. This trend didn’t stop in September when the news agenda traditionally returns to its normal pace and content, it just kept going.

Photographers and newspapers have got wise to the impact animals have on humans – especially cubs and baby monkeys, and it seems as though photographers are increasingly being allowed access to nature reserves and zoos spending hours waiting to get the right shots:

Animal pictures in newspapers act as great antidotes to the horrors and misery of what is the majority of the news. It seems that these kinds of pictures are competing with the usual PR images, so with this in mind, stand-alone images need to be impressive and eye-catching enough to get picture editors’ attention – making them choose the synthetic over the natural.

Post by Nicola Charalambous, Head of Photography @ TNR Communications

What can you do if you cant get your weekly shop in the back of your car? Stick it to the bonnet, obviously! Not sure it’ll be much success driving down a busy motorway (unless your stuck on the M25 in rush hour, in which case you MIGHT be able to keep all your purchases in tact) but this is what Tesco did in order to rasie awareness of their new petrol offer.

The supermarket chain decided to pimp their ride with carrots, eggs, toilet roll, and cheese, catching the eye of bewildered passers by at a petrol station.

Tesco Car Small

 

This masterpiece appeared last week in a Tesco in Watford to support their research which showed nearly half of us are claiming fuel prices are preventing us from seeing their loved ones. As there was no news hook to the story (research by Tesco to promote Tesco Clubcard offers) it is important to think of other avenues to make it appealing to the online media. So to make a story like this more exciting and to give it more appeal, we made it as visual as possible by sticking food and cleaning products to a hatch back!

In the world of PR no day is the same and the joys of working alongside brands and agencies for varying projects means we work on some of the strangest stunts. Although not entirely bizarre – who doesn’t want to carry their beans on their car from the shop back home(!) – this one did get some great pick up online from the likes of the Mail Online, BT.com, AOL and Yahoo, and at the end of the day, it’s pretty random and subtly gets the message across.

 

 

Post by Daisy Bambridge, Project Manager @ TNR Communications

This week we attended a Gorkana Breakfast meeting with Jonathon Boseley, Head of Programming, and Vikki Cook, Head of News and Current Affairs at London Live. As the new channel launches at the end of the month, it is important to understand how PR’s and the channel coordinators can work together and benefit from a hyper local channel – one of 19 to launch this year around the UK.

London Live’s main focus is supporting new talent and will be the only channel which has 3 hours of peak time original content. For comedy writers, budding drama creators and filmmakers not to mention budding presenters, this gives them a massive step up in their career.

But as the call to action may appear to be directed towards programming content this does not rule out the importance of a PR to help produce content (both news and other). PR’s can not only submit ideas forward for programmes – as long as they have a pilot episode prepared (this can be brand based but do bear in mind that it is still Ofcom regulated). One example series for this is a weekly show focused on one influential figure so perhaps PR’s can think about putting forward, for example, a new entrepreneur their client may have waiting in the curtains.

Another great opportunity is that whilst the channel only has a small news planning team, there is scope for PR’s to promoting London content (people/places/launches) which may otherwise be overlooked by national broadcasters and their London counterparts. London Live have a massive 5 and a half hours of news content to produce every day and it’s not just focused on the doom and gloom dominating some other London outlets coverage.

The news department will be looking at the news agenda at the beginning of each week and morning. PR’s are being encouraged to keep up social interaction as the channel are launching the London Eye – a section reaching out to bloggers and members of the public who can provide them with original content and commentary on stories. In terms of the running order, there will be a breakfast show from 0600 each morning that will look at the big questions of the day while the lunch time show will be 1 ½ hours long focused on news and current affairs (still maintaining a strong output of politics, business and social news), and the evening show which will look at more entertainment news.

It’s a really interesting shift to incredibly local content and bespoke news for regions. While it only targets a really local audience, it could be a fantastic opportunity to connect with them and engage them on a far deeper level that national media would allow.

Post by Daisy Bambridge, Project Manager @ TNR Communications

Expect the unexpected is by no means incorrect when it comes to the National Trust’s allegedly leaked ad campaign. If you haven’t already been seen it, you won’t be disappointed. The video could be mistaken for the charity changing direction in their target audience however, according to the Telegraph, they had nothing to do with it.

It was in fact uploaded by a YouTube user a week ago and now has over 40,000 views despite being uploaded 1 week ago. It seems that this is the only video Frank Close has uploaded and has no obvious links to the charity.

While it is certainly worlds apart from other campaigns launched by the charity it would certainly make us want to get out and see some of the fantastic places the National Trust is linked to around the UK.

Post by Daisy Bambridge, Project Manager @ TNR Communications

As most will know by now, it has been announced that Facebook are to buy Whatsapp to “make the world more open and connected“, but with wide reports that Facebook users were on a decline and could be down 80% by 2017 I can’t help be a tad cynical about the whole thing.

The social network was founded in 2004 and is worth $84bn, so there is obviously no doubt that Zuckerberg can just go and spend $19bn to expand the empire.  The fact that internet messaging apps, such as Whatsapp, are becoming increasingly popular amongst Facebook’s target audience must have something to do with the move.  However, it does feel like they are scrambling around to make sure they don’t just become a piece of internet history, seen in some tech museum in the distant future.

Taken from Mashable:

Facebook released Poke, a messaging app that mimicked Snapchat’s self-destruct feature, last December.  Thanks to the social network’s imprimatur, it zoomed to the top of the download charts, according to App Annie.

Poke fell out of the top 25 quickly after, and as of mid-March or so, it began a free fall out of the top 1,000.  Among social networking apps, Poke is ranked around No. 300.

Facebook originally wanted to buy Snapchat but when they declined Facebook must have gone searching elsewhere. During the announcment, Zuckerberg said they “want to build services that help people share any type of content with any group of people they want”.

With all he has achieved at the age of 29, the fact my colleague reminded me that Facebook now own Instagram and after writing this blog post, he probably DOES  have a trick up his sleeve.  Without question, Facebook nailed the user generated content arena and it looks like Facebook don’t want to change the current state of Whatsapp.

I would hope that buying the messaging service is not just something for monetary gain, however, more about combining the two to create a new service that will indeed enhance people’s capabilities to share content.

Post by Daniele Baron, Producer @ TNR Communications