The Biggest Mistake You Can Make When You Undertake a Media Interview

I have highlighted how to prepare for a media interview a few times on this site and on my YouTube Channel and wanted to drill down on a major mistake that people make when they undertake a media interview.

Many people get very excited about the possibility of being featured by the press, particularly popular mainstream media outlets with, what is often perceived as having, wide reach. There is a reason why I have mentioned perceived here – but I will come back to this point further on in this piece. The excitement is justified and often quickly dampened by nerves or fear which is why preparation is essential – there are plenty of videos, blogs and courses that you can find which can help you with your media training needs. As an entrepreneur or professional who has been invited to speak on behalf of a business brand or for your expertise & personal brand – media training is essential.

But once you have undertaken media training or at least prepped for your interview what is the biggest mistake you can make when you undertake a media interview?

Not understanding the media itself. Undertaking an interview without understanding the dynamics and layers of media that exist means that you are not only limiting the impact of your message but you’re also misunderstanding the strategic value of media placements as a whole.

2020 PESO Model Graphic via Spin Sucks

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The PESO (Paid Earned Shared Owned) model illustrates the broad scope of the media. It’s not as simple as simply being featured on something and leaving it to chance or anticipating that because a platform has a large following or is well known that it will immediately make a difference to your reputation and brand positioning. There is a perception that being featured on a big media platform like the BBC or CNN for example will automatically reach your core audience but if you do not understand the media or understand the people you want to reach (customers/clients/stakeholders) then being featured by one of these media outlets will have little impact on your long term goals. By understanding different types of media and aligning your media relations strategy with your overall business strategy you might find that it makes more sense to focus your efforts on niche, targeted media or in fact building your owned media catalogue of content.  If you don’t understand how earned media overlaps with shared media you might find that you’re not taking into consideration how your words (audio/written) will be shared or how you can share your interview/feature for your own content creation purposes.  Media exposure is great but it is really only as good as your strategy otherwise it is an ego-driven exercise for vanity metrics.

So remember that understanding the media is just as, if not more important than getting featured in the media itself.

You can order my eGuide on how to prepare for a media interview here.

Why Mainstream Media Does Not Care about Your Feelings

My relationship with mainstream media is a complex and interesting one. On the one hand I must always stay plugged into what the mainstream media is covering in order to provide the best media relations service for my clients and on the other hand I am very conscious of the fact that mainstream media is not the only form of media that anyone should consume or prioritise. I have always been an advocate for niche and independent media outlets because they often provide some insight into issues that mainstream media doesn’t spotlight. One thing that has come to the forefront of discussions around mainstream media is the use of outrage and race-baiting to drive traffic and clicks, combined with the overwhelming nature of social media tribalism we are become hooked on outrage and the media is fanning the flames. The problem isn’t so much that the news is being reported or that bad things happen everyday but how the news is being reported and the impact it is having on our collective pysche – from how we digest information to how we rationalise the truth to who we vote for in elections. It is now more important than ever before for us to change our relationship with mainstream media, take the time to assess the impact media updates has on our lives and how we amplify stories and content that compounds the confusion and chaos of this tech driven information era.

I discussed the impact of mainstream media on the #YourBroccoliWeekly podcast along with other interesting and critical issues such as how Labour candidates have used their personal brands and the media as part of their campaigns and what social media trending topics like the book murderer say about us as individuals. 

Let us take the time to consider how we consume the media and what we can do to make our relationship with all types of media more effective and healthy. Even though this is called a post-truth age; we can still search for the truth in all things no matter how chaotic things become. 

How Elle Magazine Proved That Clickbait and Twitter are Not Always a Winning Combination

It is not uncommon for mainstream media publications to use catchy headlines to grab our attention, this tactic has been used to sell papers and magazines for many years. In the digital era mainstream media outlets are now using clickbait headlines more and more to encourage people to visit their platforms, as clicks lead to shares, increased reach and ultimately to advertising revenue. At a time when the online space has become so crowded, with mainstream media outlets not only having to compete with each other but also with influencers, niche media and micro media platforms the use of clickbait headlines has become more prevalent. Unfortunately sometimes these headlines lead to underwhelming content or even worse, fake news, which is misleading people and causing more harm than good particularly during volatile global political climates. Some readers and social media users are wising up to clickbait tactics,  meaning that some people don’t even bother to click and are simply reacting to the body of the tweet which is counter-productive. Those same tactics can easily turn into a PR disaster as  Elle Magazine US  found out recently when they fell foul by tweeting this message about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West:Elle Magazine Kim and Kanye Tweet

Upon clicking the link in the tweet readers were led to a voters registration page – their intentions were clearly good but the execution was in poor taste and the tweet was inevitably deleted after a follow up apology from Elle Magazine. There has been backlash and critique of the original tweet which is understandable, using celebrity gossip in this way is distasteful. But what does it say about Elle’s perception of its core audience and followers if it takes fake celebrity news to encourage people to take something as  important as voting seriously?

Did the tweet work? One could argue that the clicks to the voters registration page increased and hopefully people actually registered (I do not have any stats to confirm this) so it worked.  But was this the best way to achieve the end goal? Are we becoming a society that will only care about what matters if celebrity gossip is attached? Surely mainstream media outlets like Elle Magazine, which is a brand in and of itself, need to be mindful and more careful about how they are using their online influence and their platforms. In a world where fake news has shaped how people vote, interact with and even view each other the media needs to be more conscious of how it shares its messages. From a PR perspective I understand that there is a sense of urgency during uncertain political times and encouraging people to vote is an important issue but with that urgency media outlets must uphold clarity and above all else accuracy. I encourage people to fact check everything they read but in this fast paced media landscape people are relying on the media to provide them with information not misinformation.  We do not want to end up with a society that needs to be misled and duped into doing what is right for all.  As our windows to the world, all media platforms have a responsibility to be wiser with how they engage with their audiences – after all even if a tweet can be deleted the internet never forgets.