Learning how to deal with the media is important, even if you don’t make it pro.
As a collegiate player, if you can’t handle yourself in the media, it can and will impact the public’s perception of you; in some cases, it can even affect your character in the eyes of NFL teams.
So I thought I’d do a little research to see what some other qualified sources think when it comes to advice to athletes for dealing with the media.
Today I’m going to share some of the things that I found.
Oh, by the way, below is the link to part two of this series:
Here we go…
Lesson #1 – Don’t Lose Your Focus
In “Tips for Athletes on Speaking to the Media & More” nationally acclaimed broadcaster Roy Firestone was interviewed, and shared some good advice.
Keep the Media “In It’s Place”
The first one that stood out to me is to keep the media “in it’s place” in your mind.
If that doesn’t make sense, let me make it simple:
Don’t get so preoccupied with the media to the point where you lose focus on what’s most important.
And your job is to play ball, or to be the best a student-athlete you can be.
Don’t let the media gain too much importance in your life.
If you do, you’ll lose your job as an athlete.
And if you do that, the media won’t be interested in you much longer, so don’t forget that.
Lesson #2 – You Can’t Please Everybody
If you feel like you’re stretching yourself too thin, don’t be afraid to turn down interview opportunities.
Sometimes You Gotta Just Say No
If you’re tired and mentally drained, but you grant an interview to every Tom, Dick, and Harry out of a sense of obligation or trying to please people, there’s a good chance that you’ll give a crappy interview anyways.
Then, they’re going to be just as mad (if not more) as they would’ve been if you would’ve just declined the interview to begin with.
Lesson #3 – Don’t Take Yourself too Seriously
As Firestone mentioned in the interview, this is one of the reasons why people like Bobby Bowden still get endorsement and appearance opportunities, like the one with Discover Card.
He doesn’t seem to take himself seriously. He appears to be a very humble guy.
People tend to like people that they feel they can relate to.
If a media outlet thinks you’re important enough to interview, you’re already being put up on a pedastal; you don’t have to try to be “Hollywood” to try to make yourself seem important in the eyes of the viewers or readers.
Take advantage of the opportunity to connect to the audience by taking a few jabs at yourself here and there when you’re getting interviewed.
Show some humility.
Check Mr. Bowden out in one of his Discover Card commercials.
Lesson #4 – NEVER Get Into a Confrontation with the Media
As Mr. Firestone stated in the article, you will lose every time if you do.
Never Let ’em See You Sweat
Even if it makes you feel good at the time, “snapping” on a member of the media will usually backfire.
“They” control the newspaper, magazine, or television show that your interview will be broadcasted on, not you.
“They” will have the power to spin that interview anyway they want, and there’s very little you can do about it.
And plus, as Mr. Firestone said, they will make you look like a fool.
Think about all the famous rants in sports history, and tell me whether the subject of the rant was viewed seriously, or poked fun at in the media afterwards?
I personally can’t think of many that were viewed in a positive light.
Most rants have become subjects of jokes on radio and tv shows.
Remember this one?
Lesson #5 – Make Sure You’re Prepared for Interviews
Before an interview, don’t be afraid to ask what the interview is going to be about, and the questions they’re going to ask.
The more prepared you are, the more relaxed you’re going to be.
Plus, knowing what to expect can help relieve the anxiety of going into an interview and not knowing what to expect.
To project yourself in the best light possible, spend some time figuring out what you want to say, as well as what areas you “won’t” delve into.
Rehearse if Necessary
If necessary, spend a little time going over how you’re going to address the questions.
The more prepared you are, the better your chances are of giving a good interview.
In “Dealing with the Media…” they give some great advice on a precise method to use when it comes to preparing for an interview:
…it is essential that you know what you want to say and spend some time getting your messages clear in your mind… try to restrict yourself to three main messages, removing all extraneous and unwanted material so you are left with a headline sentence or ‘sound-bite’ for each message. A sound bite is a quotable quote: brief, self-contained, phrased in everyday language, and should be colourful or metaphorical, passionate or energetic. Being roughly five seconds long, it will need to be clear, concise and punchy.
As they go on to elaborate in that article, having sound bites already put together in your mind gives you more control on how that interview will be used by the media.
If you put together something catchy, that you know people would want to hear, the chances are high that the media is going to extract that phrase and promote it.
At the very least, there’s a high chance that they’re going to at least include the sound bite in the video segment or article.
This can be great for you, because if this catchy slogan or sound bite represents the message you want to get out to the public, you’re almost guaranteed that it’s going to reach the people, instead of getting extracted from the finished presentation.
Later on, in the same article, they give some more good tips for preparing for the interview, which are listed below.
In a nutshell, knowing the answers to these questions will help you craft your answers properly, and will increase your chances of responding properly to the questions you’re going to be asked:
- What the interview is going to be about
- What angle the journalist will take
- Who else will be involved and/or who else the journalist is talking to
- Whether it will be live or pre-recorded for later broadcast
- What form the final broadcast will take (straight one-to-one interview, as part of a report, part of a documentary, etc.)
- How long the final interview will be
- How long the final program will be
- Who the interviewer is
What are the most common mistakes you think athletes make when it comes to the media? Leave a comment!
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Tips for Athletes on Speaking to the Media & More (via accessathletes.com)
Dealing with the Media – UK Media Training (via impactfactory.com)
Meet Wesley Mallette. Comment Communications (via sportsinfo101.com)