I was recently privileged to participate in a small working session on media relations, in which former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, shared his advice on how to effectively manage media relations.
Ari was the primary spokesperson for US President George W Bush. He was “the man at the podium” who fronted the world’s most senior media in a period spanning the presidential election recount, 9/11, two wars, and domestic anthrax attacks. Media relations just doesn’t get any tougher than that!
Ari’s advice to media relations professionals netted down to the following key points:
Truth: Never lie. Your personal credibility is key to your success.
Homework: Research the full facts of each issue. Don’t allow yourself to be blindsided.
Reporter: Think like one. Anticipate today’s questions and tomorrow’s.
Define Your Message: Write in one sentence the headline you want to see tomorrow.
Discipline: Stick to your message. Don’t be side-tracked.
Be Succinct: Short statements are more likely to be quoted.
Be Thoughtful: It’s okay to discuss both sides of a complex issue.
Be Respectful: The media have a job to do. Help them do it, and don’t be rude.
Bridge: Move conversations on to the subjects you wish to discuss.
Remain Aware: Don’t make remarks not intended for broadcast.
Ari also pointed out how valuable media relations people can be to an organisation’s leadership team, as a source of intelligence about developing issues and concerns.— Please Note: The above are my notes on Ari Fleischer’s ideas. Ari now works extensively in the world of sports, and helps advise several major corporations about their communications issues. He can be contacted via his website.