Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chilean miners get media training...should you?

I love that the Chilean miners received media training while still in the mine. We should all be this prepared before we face the press, right? Anyone who hopes to be interviewed by the media -- whether it's because of a crisis or a whizbang new product launch or the next best-seller -- should get some practice in front of a microphone before heading into the media glare.

How much training you get and who provides it depends on your budget and location. Business people, authors, and nonprofit leaders in major metropolitan areas can work with a local consultant who specializes in preparing people for media interviews. Google "media training" and your city for a list of consultants.

Those in smaller markets usually don't have access to these specialists, but can still do well working with a local public relations (not advertising) firm. Make sure you ask who and how many they've trained before and check references. Also consider hiring a local TV newscaster to moonlight for you. Veteran broadcasters know what questions you'll get asked, how they'll be asked, and what a good answer sounds like. Like consultants, local broadcasters can coach you in how to react and respond, how to speak in sound bites that will make sure your interview gets used, and what to avoid saying.

The miners were smart enough to get help. Learn from their experiences and line up your trainer now.

Have you received professional media training? How did it help you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

5 common Facebook faux pas

Do you make any of these social networking mistakes? We're all guilty of Facebook faux pas from time to time. It's only when we repeat them continually that we run the risk of being unfriended. Here are some of the mistakes I see regularly and why they're a problem:
  • Being ridiculously self-promotional. Several colleagues at a recent meeting said this was their biggest Facebook pet peeve.  I can relate. A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook invitation from someone who included a promotional message with her friend request. I thought that was odd, but gave her the benefit of the doubt and accepted the request. This was followed by a similar advertising message from her on my wall: "I'm glad we're friends. I think you'll be interested in my product X and my service Y." It's not the best way to start a relationship -- in social networks or in face-to-face networks. 
  • Writing "happy birthday!" to someone on your own wall. OK, this is funny when my Mom does it, but when the rest of us do it, it's kind of silly. Here's how to avoid this: Go to your home page. Under "Events" in the upper right, you'll see the names of any Facebook friends with birthdays today. Click on the name; that will take you to the birthday girl's page. Write your message on her wall.
  • Saying something mean on a wall that you wouldn't say to someone's face. AWKward. This gives us too much insight into your true character. Ick.
  • Writing private messages on your friend's Facebook wall. These messages make the rest of us uncomfortable. It's like we're eavesdropping. Use the Facebook e-mail system instead. Here's how: Go to your friend's profile page. Under his picture, you'll see "Send (name) a message." Click on that and you'll get an e-mail window.
  • Sending "you should 'like' this page" messages to all of your friends rather than sending it only to people who might actually be interested in the business or product. If you're in Michigan and the page you "like" is for a local business, don't send the "I like this page and I think you will too" message to your friends in other parts of the country. Keep it local. (This applies even if you're paid to do this for clients.) Most people don't mind occasional irrelevant messages, but when you do it a lot, you're going to lose friends. (And maybe that's not a bad thing.)
I like how Facebook lets us be our own forum moderators. Let's help these people out by taking advantage of our ability to be in control of our own content. When someone writes something on your wall that's better suited to a private conversation, delete it. (Move your mouse to the end of the first sentence. The word "REMOVE" appears. Click it.). Then respond to the question or comment through your Facebook e-mail inbox -- it's a quiet way to suggest the right way to handle sensitive or private topics. Similarly, when someone writes something on your wall that makes you uncomfortable, delete it, because if it bothers you, it will bother someone else, too.

What's the most common Facebook faux pas you've seen? Tell us!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Author explains how to create sound bites that resonate

resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiencesresonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform AudiencesThe following information is excerpted from a press release I received today. The tips for creating memorable sound bites apply to media interviews, presentations, and written communications materials. This is a topic we've covered here before (see this posting on how to create compelling sound bites) because it's important. Talking to the press is a waste of your time -- and theirs -- if what you say doesn't get used. Here are Nancy Duarte's tips for making sure you offer memorable sound bites:

At a time when people are tweeting, blogging, e-mailing, and more 24/7, the best way to genuinely connect and create change, says author and CEO Nancy Duarte, is via truly human, in-person presentations. She stresses that everyone in every company should know how to present and communicate that company's messages with clarity and passion.

"Great presentations are like magic," says Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design, author of the new book Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences.
"It takes a lot of work to breathe life into an idea. Spending energy to understand the audience and carefully crafting a message that resonates with them means committing time and discipline to the process. Think about it this way: You likely spend countless hours collaborating and innovating to put forth really good ideas. You should spend just as much energy ensuring they are delivered in a way that is impactful. The payoff is that learning how to present in a captivating way—be it at a formal event or to a client across the conference room table—can be your competitive edge in a business environment where too many companies are confusing communication with noise."

Just as Duarte's first book, Slide:ology, helped presenters become visual communicators, Resonate helps presenters make a strong connection with their audiences and lead them to purposeful action. The book is simultaneously an explanation, a how-to guide, and a business justification for story-based messaging. It will take you on a journey to a level of presentation literacy that very few have mastered.

So how can you make sure you present information in a way that truly resonates?

"If people can easily recall, repeat, and transfer your message, you did a great job conveying it," says Duarte. "To achieve this, you should have a handful of succinct, clear, and repeatable sound bites planted in your presentation that people can effortlessly remember. A thoroughly considered sound bite can create a 'Something They'll Always Remember (S.T.A.R.)' moment—not only for the people present in the audience but also for the ones who will encounter your presentation through broadcast or social media channels."

To help you get started creating presentations that really stick with your audiences, here are a few tips on how you can incorporate repeatable sound bites: 
  • Create crisp messages. Picture each person you speak to as a little radio tower empowered to repeat your key concepts over and over. "Some of the most innocent-looking people have fifty thousand followers in their social networks," says Duarte. "When one sound bite is sent to their followers, it can get re-sent hundreds of thousands of times."
  • Craft a rally cry. Your rally cry will be a small, repeatable phrase that can become the slogan and rallying cry of the masses trying to promote your idea. President Obama's campaign slogan, "Yes We Can," originated from a speech during the primary elections.
  • Coordinate key phrases with the same language in your press materials. For presentations where the press is present, be sure to repeat critical messages verbatim from your press materials. "Doing so ensures that the press will pick up the right sound bites," explains Duarte. "The same is true for any camera crews who might be filming your presentation. Make sure you have at least a fifteen- to thirty-second message that is so salient it will be obvious to reporters that it should be featured in the broadcasts."
  • Use catchy words. Take time to carefully craft a few messages with catchy words. "For example, Neil Armstrong used the six hours and forty minutes between his moon landing and first step to craft his historic statement," says Duarte. "Phrases that have historical significance or become headlines don't just magically appear in the moment. They are mindfully planned."
  • Make them remember. Once you've crafted the message, there are three ways to ensure the audience remembers it: First, repeating the phrase more than once. Second, punctuating it with a pause that gives the audience time to write down exactly what you said. And finally, projecting the words on a slide so they receive the message visually as well as aurally.
  • Imitate a famous phrase. "Everyone knows the Golden Rule," says Duarte. "'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' Well, an imitation of that famous phrase might be 'Never give a presentation you wouldn't want to sit through yourself.'"
 To learn more about the author's work, visit http://www.duarte.com/.