What is your message? Anytime you are speaking to the news media, you need to have a clear sense of what is most important to you, your message. you are not simply there to be a reference librarian to just answer questions. people have google for that, and Wikipedia. if you are speaking to the news media, you need to have a clear sense of what is the message, you want people to know. if you are making your own media, focus on just one or two or three ideas in any one communication. so for example, in this video I am not being interviewed by a reporter, this is media I create and control on Udemy. but I am just going to focus on messaging. I am not going to talk about sound bites here. I am not going to go back to tips on how to look good on camera. I am just gonna focus on messaging.
When you are speaking to the news media, I believe you should go into an interview with a strong sense of, here is the topic, reporters will let us know what the topic is but now you get to figure out what is most important to you that you want the readers, viewers, listeners of this media outlet to get from you. so when they are opening up their newspaper or clicking on a website or watching TV, this is the part that you want them to see from you. my recommendation has three ideas each idea, each message is something you should be able to say in ten words or less. you should be able to say the whole thing in 30 seconds or less.
Well why three? It is because if you only have one message and you come back again and again and again in every answer to one message then it seems boring. but not in this, there is not enough there. if you try to do more than three in my experience it is highly unlikely you will get more than three messages into any final interview. even if it is unedited it is unlikely, anyone will remember more than three messages. three is a number that just works. It works on speeches, it works in religions, it works with a lot of symbolism in every aspect of life. it is easy for people to remember and it is just enough to have a little variety not be boring but it does not over.
Well a lot of times people say “well you know I have just got too much stuff. I want to share all my knowledge.” you are not sharing knowledge if you are just overwhelming people with lots and lots of data. I hear this people say “TJ I do not want to dumb it down. I want to respect my audience and respect this journalist.” I want you to respect them too and a part of your way of respecting the audience and the journalist is by using your judgment. you are the expert on whatever it is you are being interviewed on. so it is up to you to figure out everything, you could say on this subject what is most important, what do people most need to know as mark twain and a lot of other famous writers have been credited with saying. “I am sorry I wrote you a long letter I did not have time to write you a short letter.” it actually takes more time and judgment to narrow things down to your top three messages than to just tell people everything.
Here is one way of thinking of this messaging process. if the London times came to you and said “we are going let you write the first paragraph of this story.” any way you want what, would you put in it? Your first three sentences. what would you put in? Now they are not going to do that but as a mental frame it is very helpful to really figure out what is most important. if the BBC or France 24 came to you and said “we are going to let you run a free 30-second public service announcement commercial on this subject.” you can say anything you want. what would it be? I am pretty sure you would figure out what your top three messages are. what you could say that fits in 30 seconds. major news outlet comes to you and says “you can only take the 30 seconds and you say” well unless I have five minutes I am not going to take it. I do not think you would turn down the 30 second ad. just because you insist on five minutes, you would figure out a way of making it work.
So that is my challenge to you. now is you have got to think of some topic, something you talk about in your real business, your real career, your real civic organization. whatever you do think of a topic we are reporters likely to want to interview you. if the reason you are here is just to prepare for your own social media creation and think of a topic whether it is cooking muffins or whatever it is think of a topic that you want to tell people about and really focus on what those three messages can be.