Watching the polished performances our CEOs give on 7:30, Lateline, Sky and other programs it’s easy to drink the Cool Aid and believe that these guys are naturally talented media superstars.
While some of them are, even the best performers get coached on their delivery and have their insights honed by experts before any high stakes moment. Especially before appearing on national TV.
And when they don’t, it makes for an excruciating interview. Some of the worse foot in mouth moments even make international headlines. Like Tony Abbot’s 'rookie mistake' in the US when he sledged Australia’s last two Prime Ministers.
It’s a few years old* but Irwin’s performance is so cringingly bad even the hosts are taking the Mickey out of him.
His main problem isn’t that he goes straight to message (that's poor technique and easily fixed), his real problem is that he is completely content free and totally unprepared for a serious interview.
Squawk Box is a high level business program where captains of industry share insights. But Irving came armed only with a product plug for a new chewing gum. No media trainer worth their salt would have let that happen.
If you don't have a media coach or media advisor, here are three steps to avoid such an epic media fail:
1. Keep current: Watch key business programs, read the influential journalists covering your space – not only will you know what’s going on in your industry but you’ll have a real insight about what is covered and what depth of knowledge you need to display.
2. Focus on your audience’s needs, not yours: Start with what they expect and what they need to know. Then think about what you need from the interview. Find common ground, if you can’t then don’t do the interview.
3. Invest in quality external coaching: It’s really hard for an in–house media person to give brutally honest feedback to the person who does their performance review. And because they are in-house they are way too close to you and your business. Don’t rely solely on your PR consultancy either, they are often too close to to you and the work.
If you do have a media coach or are using a PR firm or your in-house team, there's a few questions you can ask to be sure they know what they are doing.
Well it’s hard to be impartial here since not only am I in the game, but it makes my blood boil when I have to untangle the mess and damage wrought by so many unskilled trainers.