You’re in the Media Spotlight, Now What?

Media appearances are coveted opportunities to promote yourself, your brand, or your movement. But your excitement for the free opportunity to promote yourself is not enough.

Are you ready?

Surprisingly, even seasoned professional speakers, actors, writers, musicians, and other personalities or on-air talent may still have challenges with media appearances. The reason is simple: media appearances require a unique skill set.

Being talented at authoring articles, delivering lines from a memorized script, or reading from a teleprompter does not translate directly into reaping the rewards of a successful media appearance. These are great skills to possess, but you must have additional talents to be effective at communicating with the media in live broadcasts.

Here are three key components you must know before you make your media appearance. I call them the “Three M’s”: Message, Minutes, and Media type.

Heather Wagenhals interviews Steve Forbes at FreedomFest.

Know your message. When it comes to appearing confident, genuinely knowing your brand’s message is vital. You must have more than rote memorization of your mission or vision statement. Clever recitation of your tagline as it plays with music in your commercials isn’t enough, either. You need to know that and how to present in different contexts to different audiences. What you must remember is that this is neither a speech nor a commercial. It is an interaction with the host, other possible guests, and your audience. Because this is a two-way conversation at minimum, you must have an inherent understanding of why you’re there so that you can adjust your message accordingly.

Avoid being just another “talking head” in your industry or movement by sincerely connecting with the host, other guests, and your audience. The only way to do this is to prepare yourself. The time to make this decision is before the cameras roll or the microphone gets hot. If you skip determining your outcomes before beginning, you’ll never know if you met the objective for this communication.

Here’s how to solve this dilemma. First, prepare thoughtful, engaging, emotion-provoking responses to the following questions. Suppose this is somebody’s only interaction with me/my brand/my movement. What is the message I want them to remember? Or “what action do I want them to take next?” Then write it down and rehearse it several ways, while sitting and standing, and with and without holding a microphone.

Know your minutes. You must know the value of a minute. The consequence for not understanding can be more damaging for you/your brand/your movement than missing the media spotlight entirely, especially if you are speaking to an adversarial host or audience and you don’t control your messaging length. When you book the appearance, find out how long the segment is. Most national news segments are around 7 minutes, depending on what part of the show you appear. In contrast, many podcasts can run upwards of two hours. You must be able to be concise, but also tell a longer story when time permits.

Determine your communications objectives for this media appearance using the first “M,” Message. Next, craft several ways to respond to this objective. Also, distill a condensed version of essential facts to go with the messaging. Remember, time is of the essence.

Now let’s learn the value of a minute.

Jim Woods interviews Michael Shermer.

Set a timer for 60 seconds, then imagine a question the host asks you. Start the timer, press record on a tape player or webcam and practice your answer. Likely, you will be surprised how much of that 60 seconds is left over. This is essential when you may be appearing with others, and you need to communicate clearly. You don’t want to be that guy or girl making a panel appearance, and your answers stop too short, or they run too long.

To effectively communicate, you must rehearse and tailor your responses to a specific window of time. You won’t “get better with time” without adequate preparation. Then, once you get the hang of it, have your kids or a friend interview you. Their lack of experience and familiarity will force you to be flexible and think on the fly, and the best part is that it will get you out of your comfort zone.

Know your media outlet. Finally, you need to know more details about the media outlet and the show you’ll be appearing in. Think about your appearance in terms of a strategic mission. You must know as much about the other side to determine your tactics. Areas to focus on are:

What is the flow of the show?

How does the host transition from one segment to the next?

How skilled are they?

Will you need to provide the questions to ask as they may not be familiar with your topic?

Will you be taking questions from callers or a live studio audience?

Will other guests appear with you, and how many?

Is the host friendly or adversarial?

Is it a network or show that’s been supportive of you and your industry in the past?

Does it represent the market and audience that you want to address?

For example, in the freedom and liberty movement, some media outlets support our cause. But then some media outlets are not interested in reporting the facts, as they’re pushing their own agenda.

Perform your reconnaissance thoroughly because you must prepare your answers to address various contexts and use language reflective of the audience you are speaking to. Your responses may be dramatically different when you’re dealing with a friend instead of a foe.

During FreedomFest, I’m speaking on this specific topic for the business and entrepreneurship track Wednesday, July 21, at 2 PM MDT titled “Media Training 101: How to Grow Your Brand.” This session is interactive where I’m sharing with you my proven formula for media appearance preparation. This strategy is so effective, it earned me over 2,000 media appearances in radio, print, and television. I’m also a regular contributor to the FOX News family. More than a third of these were repeat appearances because of my ability to handle myself well in various situations and with any audience.

We will work through my system step by step, creating your own media appearance preparation package. Plus, you have the option to be in the hot seat as we test those newly acquired skills, where I will interview you right on stage!

Successful media appearances won’t happen by chance. It happens by choice—your choice to prepare yourself to maximize your media appearance opportunities. I look forward to seeing you at FreedomFest, and in the media spotlight.

Heather Wagenhals has empowered others for 25 years with her special blend of personal finance and wealth building techniques through books, articles, speeches, radio, and television. As a nationally recognized personal finance authority, Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, award winning professional speaker, real estate investor and Broker, she hosts the nationally syndicated show “Unlock Your Wealth” starring Heather Wagenhals.

Heather speaks regularly on the topics of money, investing, achievement, effective communication, and persuasion techniques. She broadcasts live on during FreedomFest. Drop by media row to catch her and top market analyst Jim Woods interviewing the hottest names at FreedomFest!