Media Training for Bloggers – BlogHer 2012

We’re here at the Media Training for Bloggers session with Elaine Wu and Julie Crabill.

My sincere apologies, readers. I pride myself on the thoroughness of my liveblogging posts, but my laptop gave me the blue screen of death while I was saving my first draft, and then it did the same thing again when I rebooted and tried simply to type in Notepad…so I’m missing approximately the first 20 minutes of the presentation. I asked for a copy of the slides, but I was unable to get them. I do hope to update my notes when the presentation becomes available online in approximately a week, but I didn’t want to wait to publish what I have since I’m known for hitting Publish before I leave the room after a session ends.

Media Training for Bloggers - BlogHer 2012

Understanding the Media

  • Audience-driven, rating & revenue dependent, infotainment
  • News is controversial

Clear, Concise, Consistent

  • Create & practice your elevator pitch
  • Convey how you feel through attitude and colorful, interesting language
  • Have a generic version and be ready to personalize
  • Watch for nonverbal cues from the listener
  • Nodding & eye contact = GOOD
  • Darting glances, glazed over = BAD
  • Always leave them wanting more

You have a story – now tell it

  • Develop a mutual professional relationship
  • Reach out to offer your assistance – and make your strengths known
  • Be ready to answer questions related to general news of the day
  • Don’t be transactional
  • If you’re using HARO and you’re short on time, do a keyword search of their emails

Once you get them interested…

  • Before your start: be confident, have a plan, know your objectives
  • At the beginning, make sure both parties know the background first (Do they know you? Are they already working on something? Do you know them?)
  • As you go: Be useful, accurate, credible, calm, considerate, polite, firm in your responses

Long term vs short term relations

  • You will need to help them more than they need to help you, but don’t be a doormat
  • Give them a few minutes when they need it, but don’t build your entire schedule around them
  • When they are asking for opinons, try to give one and make it strong
  • You don’t need to burn bridges weith anyone to give the reporter something punchy
  • Attack the status quo – not a specific person/company
  • Find a way to say something counter-intuitive or unpopular
  • There is a difference between expressing your opinion and whining or complaining.
  • Be patient; long term relationships will pay off if you give it time.
  • Send a hand-written note to thank your interviewer to make yourself unforgettable

The Interview

What makes a good interviewee?

  • Understands the media
  • Knows their role as an expert resource
  • Is prepared before each interview
  • Feels comfortable communicating messages
  • Is confident, cool, calm, and collected
  • Be conversational, not scripted or too formal
  • Someone who gets their point across by keeping things short and sweet, yet clear = SPEAK IN SOUNDBITES
  • Always remember to breathe

Responding to a media request

Ask these questions:

  • About the publication/outlet, its circulationand and distribution
  • When and what might get published/airdate
  • Who else are you talking to for this piece?
  • What story angle the reporter is taking
  • Is there an option got an email interview? Easier to track  & schedule, eliminates misquoting
  • It’s okay to say no to an opportunity if you get a bad vibe off the response to any of the above or if the publication is very small and you don’t think it will reach anyone relevant to you and your blog.
  • Go with your gut!

Preparing yourself

  • Pre-preare your talking points based on what you learn from your inquirt.
  • Create no more than three talking points you want to get across.
  • Feel free to contact PR to discuss opportunities if you need guidance or advice
  • Practice – think about what you want to say and how you want to say it – over and over until it feels natural
  • Rehearse in front of a mirror, family, and friends. Record it and play it back to see and listen to yourself. Take note of the “umm” and mannerisms.

Audio interview cheat sheet

  • Radio has a focus on auditory
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Bring notes for easy reference
  • Have water handy
  • Ask to test voice on mic before diving into an interview
  • Listen for the other person trying to cut in
  • Smile – people can hear it in your voice

Video interview cheat sheet

  • Television has a focus on the visual
  • Don’t fidget
  • Limit hand movements, clasp hands in your lap
  • Take a pause to collect your thoughts
  • Work wear: no stripes, patterns, solid white, or solid black; no turtlenecks, because they need to clip a mic to your collar
  • Dress like yourself; don’t wear a suit if you’re not comfortable in it
  • No big jewelry
  • Don’t do this on live TV, but with recorded interviews… drop an F-bomb or start singing a copyrighted song so they can’t air it. (Laughter)

Media DOs

  • Prepare for each interview
  • Be yourself and “chat up” the reporter to establish comfort
  • Speak clearly and keep your answers succinct
  • Smile!
  • Think before you respond, and if you don’t have an answer, say so
  • Feel free to pause and collect your thoughts – silence is okay
  • Tell the truth – never stretch a fact to fit in a story
  • Control the interview – answer the question directly first, then insert your key messages
  • Walk out if an interview turns hostile and your can’t redirect the conversation. Don’t let them poke the bear.
  • Repeat your message. Repeat your message. Repeat…

Media DON’Ts

  • Be late
  • Use jargon or confusing acronyms
  • Fill empty space – stop when you’ve made your point
  • Play “ping pong”
  • Get negative – repeat negative language, argue, etc.
  • Say “no comment” or speak “off the record”

Stock phrases to know

It’s okay not to know an answer. Never try to come up with reasons or rationales for something you don’t really know about just for the sake of an answer. (The speakers said they were going to breeze through these slides without reading them aloud because the presentation would be online. I will update at a later time.)


Christina Gleason (975 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.

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