It all starts with the audience. Who you are speaking to defines the tone and the content.  So many people being interviewed believe it is about them and how much they can show off what they know. They, therefore, miss the point that, no matter how sensitive the issue, a media briefing is an opportunity to talk to people who have a view of their business and could well have an influence on its future – as a consumer, a regulator, an employee or a politician.  With a clear view of the audience, establish the purpose of the briefing, for example, to reassure, to provoke interest, to apologise – then pull together three of four key points that will resonate, are easily expressed and sound authentic.  Use examples or tell micro stories to make the points memorably.

Who should be interviewed? Typically, the most senior executive is put up for media briefings and this is often a mistake.  If the spokesperson won’t appeal to the audience then chose someone who can.  A local manager is more suitable for local media than someone from HQ.  A worker from a call centre worker or factory floor can appeal credibly to the audience with their genuine experience.

Lastly, be ruthless about the practical details – where, when, what to wear, how long, who else in involved.  Carry a hair brush, a mirror, check behind people’s heads and bring a flask of coffee if you are miles from civilisation!


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