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I’ve been media training executives for years. The training and exercises were focused on verbal communication and sharing the company’s messaging correctly. These thought leaders were tested in several media situations to see if they could answer questions accurately and in a way that always bridged back to the “talking points.” At the same time, they practiced non-verbal communication; what their bodies were saying as they shared these critical messages. Do the same media training techniques work today in a heated and highly emotional media landscape?
A Different Approach to Media Training
Let’s look at a different approach, one that goes beyond what you expect in media training. What you expect is only part of the equation when dealing with a passionate public and a polarized landscape, from the journalists who share the “news” stories to the audiences who watch, sometimes in awe or other times, in utter shock.
There’s far too much going on in the news not to be human and to react. Daily, you witness what’s happening, from the coronavirus pandemic, the economic concerns and the reopening of business to the racial injustice, protests across the country, and the lack of civil discourse in politics in an election year. The news cycle is fast and furious, and emotions are running high. So what’s the other part of the equation? It’s to take an emotionally intelligent approach to your media conversations and to show up to your interviews and appearances with your EI hat on and your willingness to navigate increasingly tough topics.
Emotional Intelligence and Executive Interviews
Why is emotional intelligence valuable wherever an executive shows up? If you don’t have a good handle on your own emotions, you will not manage others’ feelings. The rule applies to any of your stakeholders and important constituents. The media needs your emotional intelligence too. Building a relationship with journalists and their communities means being a trusted and reliable resource. However, this also translates into showing up to interviews with more than just talking points. You have to be emotionally ready to navigate difficult topics today and how they affect your business (even when you think it’s a “softball” interview).
I could steer you to any number of YouTube videos of interviews with cable news hosts and their guests that have “gone bad” and the tweets and Facebook posts that go viral as a result. However, let’s not focus on the negative. Now, there’s an approach to listen, learn, understand, and to do better in your interviews.
You have to take a FEEL approach to your media interviews. If you’ve been following me, then you know that FEEL stands for face your Fears, engage with Empathy, live with Ethics, and unleash your Love. Your talking points and messaging are still relevant, and so is your body language. However, it’s also your job to tune in and learn how others are showing up and to uncover what they are feeling.
What’s their real agenda? The first step to finding out is to quiet your mind and to be fully present. You may be thinking, “If I’m prepared to answer questions, and I’m really good with my own body language then why does it matter?” When your mind is clear, and you’re open and understanding about what’s going on with your journalist, the media outlet, and the audience, you’re moving from one-time interview to more frequent opportunities and go-to-media expert.
Three Top Reasons to Take a Mindful Approach
If there is any doubt about bringing emotional intelligence to your interviews, here are three top reasons to incorporate a new mindful approach:
- When you quiet the chatter, you’re on your toes, fully present, and much more likely to share a thoughtful answer than the quick, pressured response you may regret later.
- When your mind is clear, you’re also able to open your frame of reference. Taking the chip off your shoulder and checking your ego at the door helps you step back when you hear something that would typically cause you to have a knee-jerk reaction. Having a clear mind allows you to stop the constant knee-jerking. Instead, you’ll ask a question, which allows a conversation to progress more comfortably.
- When you’re fully present and open to hearing different perspectives, you’re also actively listening, which is a vital part of emotional intelligence. Of course, you’ll have more concise and helpful answers when you’re tuned in and listening. You’ll also be able to mirror back information that helps people feel validated about what they’re sharing, even if you’re not in 100% agreement with their views.
If you’re interested in trying a different approach to media, then there’s a FEEL Roadmap with exercises to help you to FEEL First, a new way to prep for your interviews. Completing the activities on the roadmap will prepare you to not only deliver your talking points but also to show up with more than just your messaging. Now, you’ll be EI ready for any interview.
You can download the FEEL Roadmap here.
As more news and information is shared about the Coronavirus pandemic, the public is bombarded with messages and the volume of noise increases. Yes, these are uncertain times and communication can either help or it can be confusing. You have to choose wisely how you communicate and interact with the people and the communities around you.
At the same time, the way you’ve operated and shared information in the past, whether it was a month ago or even last week, will be different than how you’ll approach your communications today. In the spirit of helping, giving and FEELing for others, I’ve decided to do something a little different myself.
I’m launching what I call a “555” Series to offer complimentary FEEL consulting to 5 businesses, uplift 5 giving professionals by sharing their resources and provide 5 tips for communicating during times that require leadership focused on Emotional Intelligence (EI). I’ve mentioned in my video that the first 5 businesses or professionals who contact me via email (email@example.com), will receive a complimentary consulting session to assess how much they FEEL First in their communication with important constituents.
You can check out my video for the full 555 on helping businesses, amplifying the voices of colleagues with giving resources and to learn some simple tips to communicate wearing your EI hat.
We are in uncertain times. Your customers, employees, partners, the media and other important constituents are looking to you for helpful information. Unfortunately, a lot of the communication shared in uncertain times ends up confusing and frustrating these groups even more.
As we witness the stock market lows, travel bans, event cancellations and more businesses asking employees to work from home, here are three tips to help guide your communication.
Tip #1: Stick with what you know — be direct and don’t share hunches and guestimates.
Tip #2: Show up with your Emotional Intelligence (EI) so you can respond thoughtfully and not react to challenging communication.
Tip #3: Appreciate the feedback you receive — it’s a gift — even the negative feedback helps you to learn and grow.
Here’s my video discussing these tips in more detail and how they can help you.
It’s time to FEEL First in your communication. I’ve been working on my passion project, the FEEL Model, gathering research about the type of communication that builds relationships and creates stronger bonds. In uncertain times, FEEL (facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, Using Ethics and unleashing Love) can make a difference. As the Coronavirus spreads and new cases are reported in the U.S. and globally, effective, meaningful and valuable communication requires a FEEL First approach.
Check out the tips and please share yours too. Together, we can lead with compassion and understanding, and offer helpful and accurate information to the people who matter the most to us professionally and personally in our lives.
Are you confused about the public relations job search? Would you like to learn more about finding and landing an entry-level position in the PR industry?
In this #PRStudChat session, guest Jennie Donohue (@jenniedonohue), senior lecturer and director of the PR curriculum at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will be joined by @UMassJournalism students to offer tips and insights to kick start your PR career and prepare for your future now.
Jennie, her students (#DonohuePRCases) and the #PRStudChat community will cover several topics during this chat sponsored by @SpinSucks. Join us Tuesday, March 24, at 12 p.m. ET for a dynamic, hour-long discussion about:
Q1. What does the current PR job market look like?
Q2. What are some tips for searching, both online and off, for entry-level PR positions?
Q3. How can I make my application stand out from the crowd? For example, what skills and experiences are PR pros looking for in an entry-level candidate?
Q4. What materials should I include in my portfolio?
Q5. There’s a lot of talk about the importance of networking. How do I get started when I haven’t worked in PR nor have any professional contacts?
Q6. How can I prepare for the interview?
Q7. What are the next steps after the interview?
Q8. I’ve landed my first PR job. Now what? What can I expect to do my first year?
Q9. What happens if I graduate and don’t get a job right away? What should I do?
Q10. Any final suggestions for finding and landing a PR job?
As always, be sure to follow the #PRStudChat hashtag. You can tweet @PRStudChat, @SpinSucks, @LKPetrolino, @ValerieSimon or @DBreakenridge in advance with any additional questions related to “The Future is Now: Landing Your First Job Like A PRo” on March 24th at noon ET.
About Our Sponsor, Spin Sucks
It began with a simple question asked by Angela Hernandez, then President of PRSSA at Central Michigan University (CMU). “Is PR Right for me?” A follow up blog post by PR 2.0 expert Deirdre Breakenridge inspired a series of direct messages on Twitter between Breakenridge and fellow PR industry pro, Valerie Simon. This was an important question and one that should be explored beyond one student or one blog post. Why not build a community to help students across the country, and even the globe, learn from the experience and perspective of industry professionals … A community where everyone can learn and grow together. Read more
About Our Sponsor, Spin Sucks
Spin Sucks was started in September 2006 by Gini Dietrich, an agency founder, author, blogger, CEO, and creator of the PESO Model and PESO Model Certificate. Our mission? To change the perception of the communications industry. What began as a simple blog, soon became a movement. Spin Sucks is the number one PR blog in the world and the go-to resource for forward-thinking PR professionals who want to learn how to use the PESO model to implement the strategies and tactics that drive measurable business goals. It’s also a community where people have fun discussions, brainstorm, ask for help, and make new friends.
A Guest Post By: Director Ashley Maria & Producer Lea-Ann W. Berst, Pioneers in Skirts
It was the summer of 2015, and filming of this very important impact documentary was going as planned. We had been traveling throughout the United States speaking with women and men about the setback’s women were still facing in their careers. We were learning about the issues unique only to women.
Pioneers in Skirts® is a movie about ambition in women today.
We had hours of incredible character footage and a strong story arc. Our team estimated we’d finish the film after another year of following characters and fine-tuning scenes. We were almost done!
But, since we had depleted our savings and the donations we received from friends, we decided to head down the road of launching a Kickstarter campaign. The funds we’d raise would get us out of production and take us into post.
Pioneers in Skirts follows Ashley Maria’s journey as she examines the barriers and setbacks women confront in their careers. Our film came to light at a time when the Pioneers in Skirts topic, to many, was considered a non-issue. We were in an uphill battle when it came to educating the public that gender issues still existed. The word “bias” was not a term associated with women. The word “sexism” was a scary and misunderstood term. And “feminism”…many people we met had no idea that they didn’t have to burn a bra in order to show their support for equal opportunities and treatment for women!
Here we were, about to have a Kickstarter campaign for a project that many wouldn’t understand until they saw the movie. We were in a Catch-22 and needed help.
Our PR intern, Lauren McDonald, stepped forward to suggest creative ways of building awareness for the movie and educate the public as we do it. On Lauren’s lead, we reached out to Deirdre Breakenridge for advice and quickly learned that Deirdre is a person who uses her expertise to help amplify others – not just for her clients – but for people who want to find their voices, share their stories, and make a difference.
To help us communicate the right message, Deirdre suggested that Ashley appear on her Women Worldwide podcast. That one opportunity set us up for the next, and then the next. A few months later we kicked off our month-long Kickstarter campaign and successfully raising the funds we needed!
Today, we’re excited to share that on October 26, 2019, we premiered Pioneers in Skirts in Los Angeles, CA!
Our goal is to screen Pioneers in Skirts in schools, communities, and companies, and help them utilize the film to spark conversations about what inclusion really means, and how to support and actively promote gender parity in our culture today.
And, now that the movie is ready to be seen, we are dedicated to sharing lessons-learned with fellow filmmakers. We’ve also started to post behind the scenes career advice videos aimed at helping others elevate in their careers!
On January 30, 2020, we’re kicking off our “Ambition In” speaker series at the University of Southern California (USC). Our message reaches across industries, so we are working to influence post-screening discussions called Ambition in Science, Ambition in Robotics, Ambition in Politics, etc.
Called Ambition in Film: Overcoming Obstacles, Changing the Landscape of the Industry, for the January 30th event we’ve teamed up with two USC groups to instigate a productive action-based conversation!
We made this film for communities pursuing gender equality movements of their own, companies looking to better their inclusive culture, and schools who want their students to be aware of what’s ahead for them.
We especially made this film for the many young women who need to know: You Are Not Alone.
To achieve our impact goals, we emulated the approach we used for our Kickstarter campaign:
- Work to build an audience of screeners and influencers
- Research past successful impact film campaigns and try to emulate the steps they took
- When we launch, line up initial, targeted screeners who
- can afford screening packages that will allow us to raise much-needed funds, and
- are capable of bringing the film into communities and schools
- Create buzz and excitement around the film aimed at:
- incenting people to want to see the film
- incenting companies and nonprofits to want to support our impact efforts
Pioneers in Skirts is taking its first steps of our impact campaign – with an outcome of having an international deep dive changing-of-the-world for women who dream big. Our success could never have happened without the people we met and the support we received along the way.
By Ashley Maria & Lea-Ann W. Berst
Pioneers in Skirts is a film from a daughter-mother team dedicated to fast-tracking the cultural change we need in order to achieve gender parity in the workplace.
Ashley Maria is a director, writer, and sound engineer based in Los Angeles, CA. She is a winner of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) award and has also been recognized by the DGA Women’s Steering Committee as a director who represents The Future of Women in Film. Most recently, Ashley won Best New Director by the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival.
She is also a directing instructor at both UCLA’s Film School and America Film Institute’s Young Women in Film program.
Lea-Ann W. Berst is a Raleigh, NC-based producer, writer, and activation marketer. She started her career in the corporate arena, then, after 17 years, transitioned to competitive positioning consulting with mid-to-large sized companies. She is a winner of several technical and leadership awards – including the Triangle Women in Business award and twice receiving the prestigious IBM Award of Excellence!
Lea-Ann entered her career at a time where she had to fight for many of her career achievements, but – was shocked to hear her daughter, Ashley, had to fight just as hard. With years of studio and independent production experience under their belts, Ashley and her female colleagues started to notice they were consistently turned down for jobs because of being inexperienced “women-directors.”
Years of championing Lea-Ann’s daughter to be and do anything she wanted – wasn’t working!
That’s when Lea-Ann and Ashley picked up their cameras to share Ashley’s story; revealing the career obstacles she and many other women still have to deal with today.
Now that the film is released, the daughter-mother team is focused on building partnerships and tactics designed to deepen and advance the impact the film will have on our culture.
Find out more about Ashley, Lea-Ann and Pioneers in Skirts by visiting www.pioneersinskirts.com.
It’s time to unveil our 2nd PR Expanded video contest winner. A big congratulations goes to Nicole Morin, a UMASS at Amherst student, for creating her video on “Why PR Professionals Should Practice Strategic Communications.”
By way of contest background, After reading my latest book, “Answers for Modern Communicators,” Professor Jennie Donohue tasked her Introduction to Public Relations class with creating a short educational video sharing tips and insights based on one of three communication practices. The areas of practice included media relations, strategic communication/integrated marketing communication, and employee communication – that all related to the class content.
Nicole, our 2nd winner, is a junior who is pursuing a communication and journalism double major at UMass Amherst. Last semester, Nicole took the introductory public relations course where she learned about the industry, important practices, and skills, as well as the importance of maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. As she continues her undergraduate degree, Nicole is focusing on potential careers in public relations, sports or entertainment broadcasting, as well as media relations and content creation.
Take a look at Nicole’s winning video and also give her a congratulatory shout out on social media!
When I teamed up with Professor Jennie Donohue last year, we wanted to create an assignment for her UMASS at Amherst Intro to PR class that was an opportunity for students to create content based on what they learned during the semester. The question quickly became, “should it be another blog post contest?”
In the spirit of students and professionals being PR Tech Testers, we thought it would be a much more interesting assignment for students to create videos based on what they learned in class.
After reading my latest book, “Answers for Modern Communicators,” each student was tasked with creating a short educational video sharing tips and insights based on one of three communication practices – i.e., media relations, strategic communication/integrated marketing communication, or employee communication – that related to class content.
We selected two winners. Winner #1 is (drumroll please) … Wei Cai, who is an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Winner #2 will be announced next week.
Wei’s academic studies are in journalism, consumer technology, and resource economics; he is passionate about the intersections of the fields. If you want to learn more about Wei, you can follow him on Twitter at @weicai_.
Here is Wei’s winning video. Let’s congratulate and support Wei by sharing his video on social media!