Many journalists dismiss people like me who offer media training services to our clients. I’ve spoken to some news presenters and reporters who bemoan the fact that, when faced with someone who has been competently trained, they are unable to “get the story I wanted”. On Saturday morning veteran BBC journalist John Humphrey’s seemed to get the story and result he wanted after a saying to the then BBC director-general, George Entwistle, “you should go, shouldn’t you?”
One should be fair to the BBC staffers who grilled their – at the
time at least - ultimate boss when he was facing dire accusations of
incompetence about the BBC’s editorial performance. That said, although
the tone of the questions aimed at Mr Entwistle was firm the actual
content of the questions could have been easily predicted in advance.
Arguably, if he had handled these interviews better, particularly the
interview on the Today programme
which is such a strong agenda setter in the political-media world,
Entwistle would still be the BBC director-general today. That he did not
illustrates the importance of performing well in every interview and
seizing that opportunity to get your message across.
When frequently asked by clients what one tip I would give anyone
appearing on TV or radio my answer is simply one word: preparation.
Entwistle came over as someone who had given in the fight on Saturday
morning, this may have been the case or, more likely, he gave that
impression by being so ill-prepared for the interviews he gave. This is
unforgivable but the most common mistake people make, even those who
have a long and distinguished career in television like the former BBC
Those journalists who dislike politicians who are well prepared for
interviews should recognise that this is a professional approach to
agreeing to such an opportunity. In my experience the very best media
performers are those who practice the most and know what they are going
to say before they get in front of the camera or microphone. George
Entwistle failed in his duty to positively represent the BBC, explain
the steps he was taking to protect the reputation of this institution or
communicate a message of competence. For this he is my Mis-Communicator
of the Week.