In thousands of conversations with people in my coaching seminars, I hear, almost to a person, that their engagement with the news media and of having to speak publicly is often one of terror about the way in which they feel their words will be misrepresented or distorted by individuals with an ax to grind or reporters assigned to finding a dissenting viewpoint no matter where it comes from and most often without sufficient fact-checking. Many of them tell me they do their best to avoid any media exposure because they feel certain that whatever they say will somehow be worked against them ad they’ll get into trouble with their bosses, political or otherwise. Or they might get into trouble with their friends and family. Or they might have some kind of exposure that makes them look different than they feel they want to look. As a result, they are often preparing themselves for an encounter they dread because they’re very unsure of their capacity to focus on their own personal knowledge, expertise, stay out of the weeds, know that they can manage an outcome that’s successful for them. Sound familiar?
And yet, the need to communicate authentically and overcome this fear has never been more important. Old public relations tools that controlled what people see, read or hear are long out the window. More than ever, everyone who chooses or is forced to live their lives in the public realm must take charge of their own authentic, CREDible self, no matter who you work for. Being authentic or conforming to fact and worthy of belief is a central building block of developing a social media following on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. Plus, it’s where most reporters, working increasingly in a world of ‘open journalism,’ are sourcing many of their stories. Authenticity in the news media is about being CREDible; it’s about thinking and behaving in a way that builds trust and that your word can be believed. There’s plenty of negative perceptions of the news media so, let’s remember when perceptions are negative, outcomes are likely to be as well. It’s hard not to get defensive when you’re expecting the worst or when you believe you have absolutely no control over what gets printed or broadcast. It’s a stark contrast to the world you normally inhabit, one where, if you’re like most, the idea of being in control of one’s own destiny is pretty important. An interview with a reporter can feel like a walk in a minefield. At every turn, there’s another bomb just waiting to cut you off at the knees. This sense of loss of personal control is a terrifying experience for many and leads to a highly defensive reaction that puts them pretty much into a no-win situation. But, it does not have to be this way especially if you have a roadmap of where the mines are, a strategy and tactics to get you where you want to be, and you know how to seize the opportunity an interview with a reporter presents to you.
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Jon Lovink is LMI’s president, senior coach and counsel. He has 20 years of intensive media and spokesperson training and counsel experience across Canada and the US.
Few media trainers in Canada can lay claim to his combination of years of media and crisis communications training and counsel experience with his 20 years of background in the trenches of day-to-day news and current affairs operations. His work as as CRED™️ coach and crisis communications trainer puts him in touch with multiple clients dealing with real time current news media needs including wildfire management, major Canadian and international construction projects, first nations issues, significant national and regional government and corporate news and social media engagements.