Company leadership teams might know everything about their organization, but do they know how to talk to the media?

Provide brief answers, never repeat the negative, know the message I want to convey, and make sure I state my core message no matter what question I’m asked. It’s very easy in theory, but not so much in practice. Most leaders, when faced with a camera or probing reporter, know what they want to say, but in the end only answer the questions asked and never really convey their core message. Telephone interviews are typically even worse because there is the time to explain details. Many times the details are misconstrued and the spokesperson is misquoted. Or worse not quoted at all because the reporter has received such a mind dump of information he or she can’t judge what is important.

Journalists have their own agenda. They don’t want a sales pitch, they want a story. The only real solution for learning to turn a company story into message is media training and practice.

Media training teaches how to give them something to write about. It teaches leaders how to imagine themselves as the consumer of the message. It teaches them how to communicate in a concise, structured, engaging format while taking charge of the situation.

The manufacturing technology industry is fortunate to have editors and writers at industry media outlets who understand the complex equipment and processes. They patiently listen to the details. That’s their job because they are writing technical content.

The complete opposite is true for general beat reporters from places like CNBC, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, to name a few. Typically they call on a tight deadline and want access to a leader immediately. Many times there is only a short explanation about the story subject. Many organizations are going to be quoted in the story. Those quotes are going to be two or three sentences at the most. Knowing how to frame those two or three sentences is the difference between the pro’s and minor league.

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