Being the idiot I am, I opened my big mouth a couple weeks ago when I should have just kept quiet. When someone was talking about "all these people who've never been through media training and are representing us at conferences..." I remarked that I've never been through the official brainwashing media training.

PR Person: You haven't?!?

Me: (uh oh)

As a result, I'm spending all day Friday in a small room with some other folks for media training. Well, except for lunch. I'm supposed to have lunch with Simon before he heads back to London.

I got a copy of the agency's agenda for the day, and noticed a few things:

  1. The day starts at 9am. I hate dealing with commute time traffic.
  2. I'll get to practice broadcast, telephone, and print interviews. I've done several phone and print interviews before but never broadcast. I kind of doubt I'll ever do a broadcast interview. Heck, I don't even watch TV. Why would I want to be on it? ;-)
  3. No mention of podcasts. Maybe they're considered broadcast?
  4. The day begins with a "baseline" broadcast-style interview and concludes with a second one. I'm assuming the second one is used to assess how well the brainwashing training worked. But, honestly... After a whole day of this stuff, I kinda wonder if I'll really be in the right mindset for Yet Another Fake Interview.
  5. There's not an explicit section on "dirty tricks journalists use to get you to say things you shouldn't", so I'm guessing that'll be an underlying theme for the whole day.
  6. They should give out t-shirts.

While I really don't know what to expect, I hope this will answer a lot of questions I have about why spokespeople act the way they do when they're in front of a camera or microphone. A lot of it has long puzzled and frustrated me. Like, why are yes/no questions every answered with a 'yes' or 'no'?

Posted by jzawodn at September 22, 2005 10:59 PM

Reader Comments
# Rasmus said:

You get to learn all about transition phrases that take you to your talking points so you too can learn how to not actually answer the questions. The only other part I really remember from going through this is that I am not supposed to wear red because it makes me look like a lobster on camera.

on September 22, 2005 11:20 PM
# Charles said:

I'm sure they will just love making you squirm in front of a camera. So if you want to make them squirm, wear a shirt with really thin vertical stripes, so it comes up on camera with a moire pattern. Something like this. Notice it moires even on a computer screen. It will drive them crazy.

on September 22, 2005 11:51 PM
# Charles said:

Oops, your software removed my HTML link.
Anyway, try a striped shirt something like this:

on September 22, 2005 11:54 PM
# Ernie said:

And this is why I write about my mom on my blog instead of talking about work.

Teehee. :)

on September 23, 2005 12:44 AM
# Kevin said:

"The important thing to remember is...." the only important thing to remember.

This'll make sense once you've been through it.

on September 23, 2005 12:50 AM
# Darren said:

My favourite dirty trick: Near the end of the interview, the journalist pauses, takes a deep breath and closes their notebook. This implies that the interview is over. Then the journalist asks a particularly sensitive question, which the interviewee may answer because they sense that now they're just talking, as opposed to actually doing the interview.

on September 23, 2005 08:51 AM
# Glenn said:

Disappointing news Jeremy.

Time and money could be much better spent in so many other areas - listening to customers (organic and paid search equally), competing with others to produce a better SE/index and finally, making the online world better for everyone.

Teaching you how to be careful with what you say, is just an indication that transparency may not be welcome at Yahoo!

Resist the borg Jeremy, resist! Your voice is the only one many of us have heard from Yahoo!, albeit in a blog.

on September 23, 2005 10:16 AM
# Zonker said:

Part of the training probably consists of convincing you that it's not brainwashing... I'm sure you have the mental fortitude to resist the brainwashing and continue to express actual opinions and thoughts as opposed to marketing-speak.

on September 23, 2005 03:14 PM
# Adam Trachtenberg said:

Rasmus is dead on, if Yahoo media training is anything like eBay media training. However, our training is only half as long, so it must be twice as good. :)

I actually thought our media trainer was quite good, all things considered, and I was glad that I did it -- if for no other reason than my PR team was happy with me.

on September 23, 2005 07:02 PM
# Konrad said:

About facing commute traffic---not having to is quite easy, even on a day like that. Just be earlier than the pack. Getting into the office sevenish would also mean you could get things done on training day and you don't have the feeling of a day wasted that strongly.

on September 27, 2005 02:22 AM
# Diana said:

I happened on to this because I'm actually interested in BEING a media trainer. I've been doing it for one company for a while and it's been going pretty well. It's interesting to think that the people who are getting it probably think it's a bunch of bullshit.
I guess there's no getting around that it is about putting out a certain "message" no matter what. It's kind of a case of mutual manipulation by the media and the interviewee. I'd be interested in hearing more about weather it's been of value to anyone.

on September 29, 2005 10:13 PM
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