Harry and Meghan – Amazing how actually speaking to the media changes perceptions.

It is interesting to see how some of the tabloid press are covering the Duke of Sussex’s appearance at a dinner in aid of his children’s charity Sentebale. Instead of veiled criticism of him and more overt disparagement of his wife, his side of the “the story” is beginning to emerge.  We are getting a far more sympathetic line from the tabloids on Harry as he explained, albeit from a scripted speech, how much he respected his grandmother (“Commander in Chief”) and how supported he felt by his family and that he was not “walking away” from his Royal duties, but felt that he had no other option following months of soul searching.

As professional media trainers, we regularly advise local politicians, Chief Executives, business leaders and others that they have a better chance of getting their points of view across through speaking to the media directly, whether that is on television, or radio, online, on video, or through social media, than by simply waiting to see what the written press have to say about them.

Many people feel that they do not get a fair hearing from the press – tabloid press, national press, local press, or even in some cases, trade press.  Our advice is to take it to a different platform – whether locally, by going on BBC Local Radio, or Regional TV, or nationally by offering interviews to broadcasters.

With a little media coaching, it’s amazing how well many people come across when they are unscripted and free to “be themselves”.  Top people largely know what they want to say, but just need a little practice in a safe environment to say it more succinctly, to work out what works best and, most importantly, to regard each interview question as an opportunity and not a threat.

Our best advice is to remain authentic.  Authenticity is the key to communication, since the words you use are only a small (but important) part of the overall message.  How you sound and how you look – in terms of looking and sounding credible are just as important as what you are actually saying.  Watching yourself back on video, or hearing yourself back on audio, keeps you authentic, as well as reassuring you that you are better than you think you are.

Guided media practice in a safe environment with practising media professionals tackling serious media issues is by far the best way to improve communication in your organisation.

Media Friendly specialise in Media Training, Crisis Media Management, Communication Skills and PR Training. Call us now if you need urgent media advice or planning any media interview skills training. Details on all of our journalist-led media training courses can be found here.