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Archive for July, 2010

Sharing TV appearance experiences

One minute, you’re calmly writing a blog post about a topic of interest to your target audience.

The next, you’re anxiously answering phone calls from TV reporters wanting quick comment on for a breaking-news story – a matter that will require you to hunt down several busy people to research accurate answers.

I found myself in that situation recently while filling in for my boss, who was on his honeymoon. Although most of my PR career has involved strategic campaigns and project work, I occasionally have tacked crisis communication.

Thankfully, lessons learned from earlier crisis work and helpful training through the Public Relations Society of America kicked in as my adrenaline started pumping.

Immediately, I focused my attention on finding out as precisely as possible what information the reporters wanted – and what angle they might be taking. I asked about their deadlines, which I’m finding out is “now” in the Internet era. I knew some of them; others were new. I learned that they liked and respected by boss, who obviously had built good working relationships with them.

Following our organization’s crisis communications procedures, I gathered information from knowledgeable sources, discussed strategy with executives, crafted messages… It was determined that I would do on-camera interviews.

Meantime, reporters were leaving messages on my voice mail and with our administrative assistance. One even called to say he was a block away from our building.

I tried to use all off-camera time to build a rapport with the reporters and their cameramen. I asked where they went to college, how busy they were, if they had kids… It helped to relieve any tension.

Once the cameras were rolling, I remembered to look at the reporter and keep my comments concise. I wish I had been better at this, but my nerves made some sound bites a bit longer than I’d have liked.

Afterward, I watched the coverage that my wife had recorded on our DVR, and we critiqued my efforts.

By the way, my wife appeared on live TV news two days later – in a friendly 3-minute interview to promote her book, From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds. We found it very helpful to conduct practice sessions in which I played the part of the reporter. I used a stopwatch to help her keep the answers concise – and ensure key points would flow smoothly during her brief time on the air.

Like anything, appearing on TV — whether in a crisis communication role or a promotional one — takes practice.

(Note: This blog post written while flying from Dayton to Denver!)

Teaching my first social media class

Last month, I had the pleasure of sharing some social media basics with  a small group of mostly beginners.

Time flew by as I went through some statistics about the rapid growth of social networks and gave quick overviews about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, WordPress, Blogger and the like.

The group included several small businesspersons looking for ways to build awareness and draw potential customers. It was wonderful to see them open their minds to the possibilities of social media. I encouraged them to set goals, sign up for accounts, and test the various social networks.

I showed how I have used the various platforms at work, for networking, and for keeping in touch with people. My wife told about how she is using social media to share hope and inspiration with those who are battling cancer.

Overall, it was a very positive experience for all of us. Here are the slides that I used for the first 30 minutes of the three-hour class. The remainder was mostly devoted to showing how I’ve used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress — with my actual sites and pages projected on a screen.

If you’d like a similar class, or an individual consultation, please contact me.

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