Media relations training tips from Dr. Joe Trahan

Earlier this month, I had the good fortune of attending the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Southeast District Conference in Charlotte, N.C. This event brought together PR professionals from across the region for two days of networking, keynote addresses and breakout sessions.

The opening session featured Dr. Joe Trahan, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, president and CEO of Trahan & Associates. Dr. Trahan is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army Reserve, and also a professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta.  

Dr. Trahan had so much good information in his keynote as well as his hands-on workshop, I couldn’t possibly pass along all of the tips he had on media training. The following are just a few of the ones that stood out to me.

  • Dr. Trahan recommends that you listen, pause, think and then answer when being interviewed by the media. Many times interviewees start thinking up their response before the interviewer finishes asking the question.
  • Have a good opening statement for your interview, and also a good closing statement that can re-emphasize your main points.
  • Maintain a neutral expression during the question so as not to seem to be passing judgment. It’s okay to show emotion as you answer the question.
  • Use “bridging connector” phrase in your interview such as “However…,” “The key issue is…,” and “What’s important is that….”
  • Be aware of your background when conducting the interview. You don’t want background activity to upstage you or counter the points you are making.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Even if your top executives and subject matter experts know the information inside and out, they need to practice communicating in short, understandable sound bites.

 S&A Cherokee has helped dozens of clients prepare for media interviews, but it’s always good to get refresher training from experts such as Dr. Trahan.  

Author: Glenn Gillen, APR
Glenn Gillen is our Senior Account Manager.

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