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The Importance of Media Training

The Importance of Media Training

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Media Training 101If your job requires you to talk to reporters, you need media training.

As a former journalist and long-time public relations professional who’s been on both sides of thousands of media interviews, there are no exceptions to that as far as I’m concerned.

Why do I say that? Because media interviews — answering questions from reporters — play an important role in nearly every major news story. And media training is the single most effective thing you can do to improve the success of your interactions with reporters.

Most organizations I’ve worked with over the years are extremely careful when preparing their news releases. They dot every “i,” cross every “t” and parse every comma. The approval process often is extensive and painstaking.

That’s good. But it’s not enough. A news release is like a resume. A resume isn’t designed to get you a job. It’s designed to get you job interviews. If you’re looking for major news coverage, your news releases should be designed to get you news interviews — to create enough interest among reporters that they want to talk to you to learn more about what you have to say.

Unfortunately, many of the same organizations that take so much care in preparing their news releases don’t give much thought to preparing for the interviews that will follow.

That’s dangerous because you’re more likely to make mistakes that lead to negative coverage during an interview than in your news release.

Athletes, musicians, singers, actors, pilots and many other skilled professionals get coached and practice.

Is it important for you and the other the people who speak for your organization to do your best when you talk to reporters? Then get coached and practice. The coaching is called media training.

I’ve conducted media training for several decades, sometimes teaming up with my colleague Jane Dvorak. Like me, Jane is an accredited member (APR) of the Public Relations Society of America. She’s also a PRSA Fellow, a designation achieved by only about three percent of PRSA’s members. And she’s national chair-elect of PRSA.

We’ve found there are two major obstacles that keep people from getting media training — time and money. Media training can be expensive. And it can be hard to get a team of executives together at the same time for the training.

So, Jane and I have teamed up to offer Media Training 101, an affordable and convenient online media training program available through Vimeo’s video-on-demand service. It’s the same training you’d receive if you hired us to do it in person, but less expensive. For $250, you have access to the training for a full week. During that week, you can review it as many times as you like and share it with as many members of your team as you like.

It’s available at www.vimeo.com/ondemand/mediatraining101.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: Cross out the wrong words

Storytelling Tip: Cross out the wrong words

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Mark Twain“Writing is easy,” Mark Twain once said. “All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to take out a few of the right words as well.

What you leave out when telling your story is as important as what you put in. Because what you take out, puts more emphasis on what you leave in.

Instead of trying to make one more point, make one less point.

Once you’ve finished your first draft, go back and see what you can take out. And keep doing that until taking anything more out starts cutting into the real meat of your story.

Editing is an important element of writing. Don’t skip it. And be ruthless when deciding what to cut.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Stop! Don’t Read This!

Stop! Don’t Read This!

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Stop! Don't Read This!Okay. If you insist, you can read it.

Actually, I hope you will. But I wanted to get your interest. And just saying “I hope you’ll read this” didn’t sound compelling.

So, I asked you not to read it. And hoped you’d be curious enough to want to know why.

If you’ve gotten this far, it worked. At least for you.

What’s the point? When putting your story into writing, your headline and lead paragraph have just one purpose: Grab our attention and lure us to keep reading.

After that, you need to make the rest of what you say interesting enough to make the time we’ve spent reading what you wrote worthwhile.

That’s what your nut paragraph is all about. But that’s a story for another day. If you don’t want to wait, drop me a line or give me a call to chat about it.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: Timing is Important

Storytelling Tip: Timing is Important

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Lunar EclipseTiming is important.

And it’s just as important when telling your story as it is in many other things you do.

With the pope’s visit to the United States dominating the headlines, the past week may have been a good time to keep quiet — at least when it came to telling your story to the news media.

Unless, of course, your story includes an angle you could have used to tie it to the pope’s visit. Then his visit was an opportunity for you to get more visibility for your story.

In fact, the calendar or events in the news often can lend themselves to offering more visibility for your story. The beginning of fall if you have a story related to this time of year — getting ready for winter, for example. Or Sunday’s lunar eclipse if you have an angle for your story that involves astronomy.

And timing can be important even when you’re not dealing with the media. You probably don’t want to be pitching school supplies to recent graduates. But they may be interested in hearing from you if you can help them pay their student loans.

Pay attention to the timing of your story. Know when it’s time to speak up. And when it’s time to be quiet.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

If a story is not about the hearer . . .

 

If a story is not about the hearer . . .

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen.“Of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule — a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting – only the deeply personal and familiar.” — John Steinbeck

Who is your story about? You? Or your audience?

If it’s not about them, they won’t hear or remember it.

Yes, but . . . Is that what you’re thinking? Aren’t there exceptions? Those travel articles about faraway, exotic places, for example. Aren’t they about the strange and foreign?

Yes, they are. But we read them to imagine going there. We put ourselves into the story.

Find a way to put your audience into your story. Or they won’t hear you. Or remember.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: Actions speak louder than words

 

Storytelling Tip: Actions speak louder than words

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Actions Speak Louder Than WordsTelling your story well can do you more harm than good if you don’t live up to your words. Because actions speak louder than words.

A highly successful publicist once told me that his knack for getting getting lots of publicity for his clients and their products was a two-edged sword.

“Getting a lot of attention for a good product is powerful,” he said. “But getting a lot of attention for what turns out to be a bad product can be devastating because we put it into the spotlight.”

It doesn’t matter how well you tell your story if you don’t live up to what you say.

In fact, not living up to what you say makes it harder to get believed the next time you have something to say. And the more attention you get for words you don’t live up, the harder it’ll be for you to be believable the next time around.

So, pay attention to your words when telling your story. But pay even more attention to what you do to live up to them.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered.
Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Writing tip: Cliches can be your friend. Or your enemy.

 

Writing tip: Cliches can be your friend. Or your enemy.

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Inside the boxCliches can be your friend. Or your enemy.

Cliches have a bad reputation. But I’m here to defend them.

We all use them. And certain phrases become cliches because they work. So, they get used. Over. And over. And over.

I didn’t learn to write in school. I learned to write in newsrooms during the 20 years I spent committing journalism. Deadlines looming. And a limited number of words allowed.

Under those circumstances, cliches were often my friend. Why? Because they make a point or paint an image that we all get in just a few words without a lot of explanation needed.

But they don’t always work. If you use cliches to avoid saying anything worth hearing, your audience is likely to get bored and tune you out.

And many of us have our pet peeves when it comes to cliches. At least I do. One of mine: Think outside the box. When I hear someone say that, I know they almost always are not thinking outside the box. They’re using a cliche to make a point about thinking and doing things differently.

In fact, there’s a case to be made for thinking inside the box when telling your story.

What’s the one thing you want the rest of us to hear, understand and remember? In other words, what’s your message?

Make that message the box containing your story. And make everything else you say to tell your story fit inside that box. Your story will be clearer. The way that was explained to me as a young reporter was to write a lead that told readers the guts of what happened. And then use the rest of the story to fill in the details.

So, when should you use cliches? And when should you avoid them?

I think those are the wrong questions. The real questions: Have you told your story in a way that gives the rest of us a reason to care? Have you made it simple to understand? And have you told the truth to the best of your ability?

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Writing tip: Make your story about me

 

Writing tip: Make your story about me

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Writing tip: Make your story about me“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” So says Ira Glass, host of the public radio show This American Life and one of the great story tellers of our time.

If other people aren’t interested in your story, it’s boring. It doesn’t matter how good you think it is. In fact, your story may be interesting to one audinece and not to another. The audience that counts is the one you’re trying to reach.

I sometimes tell people I’m boring as a stump. But I have the good fortune to be surrounded by interesting people. So, that makes my life interesting. That usually comes across as a joke line. But there’s more truth to it than I like to admit sometimes.

What does that have to do with telling a great story? If your story is boring — which is to say your audience isn’t interested in what you have to say — chances are you’re making the common mistake of making your story about you.

Why is that a mistake? Because everyone’s favorite subject is me. Not you. Me.

So make your story about me, the audience. Not about you, the storyteller.

Why should we care about what you have to say? Figure out the answer to that question and focus on it as you tell your story.

Your story will be be a lot more interesting to the people you’re trying to reach. And if you give us a really good reason to care about what you have to say, you’ll tell a great story.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Writing is a blood sport

 

Writing is a blood sport

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Writing is a blood sportWriting is a blood sport. Who would have guessed?

For example, the late journalist, playwright and author Gene Flower once said, “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

Or, as Ernest Hemingway put it: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Poet and story writer Dorothy Parker once said: “I hate writing, I love having written.” My sentiments exactly.

“Easy reading is damn hard writing,” said Nathanial Hawthorne.

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. “If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all,” said novelist Anne Tyler.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start,” said Stephen King. Coming from him, that’s saying something.

“It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins,” said novelist and film writer Neil Gaiman.

Writing comes easy for you? Beware. Some of the worst writers I’ve known are people who claimed writing is easy. Words just poured out of them. But they usually weren’t all that good.

Or, as novelist Thomas Mann put it: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

Perhaps my favorite quote about writing, which I have framed and hanging on a wall, is from Moliere: “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it. Then you do it for a few friends. Finally, you do it for money.”

I try to do it for money as often as possible. In return, I help the people I work with keep their foreheads dry.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Business Storytelling: Adventures First

 

Business Storytelling: Adventures First

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Business Storytelling: Adventures First“Adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”

That was the storytelling advice of Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

It’s good advice for when you step into your role as a business storyteller. Because the “dreadful time” it takes for explanations is when people get bored and tune you out.

So, don’t make the common mistake of getting bogged down in detail when telling your story.

Business storytelling usually is about persuading the rest of us to buy what you’re selling.

Want to persuade me? Give me a reason to believe you’ll solve a problem for me or create an opportunity for me.

Facts don’t persuade until you’ve given us a reason to believe you can help us. What do we get – or what problem do we avoid – by buying what you’re selling? That’s how to get our attention.

Once you’ve got us interested, then provide whatever facts we need to make a decision. How do you know which facts to include? Listen to the questions we ask. We’ll tell you what we want to know.

Don’t start with the explanation. Start with the adventure. Save the explanation for those of us interested enough to want more details.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

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