Media relations

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Cadet National Champ Rosemary Flores being interviewed by USA Wrestling’s Communications Director Gary Abbott at the 2011 Cadet & Jr. Nationals

Media relations was a department that communicated news to the world for the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Marquette, MI where yours truly worked  for 8 years as Head Freestyle Wrestling Coach.  Media relations can also be defined as creating great relationships with the world via intelligent communication by the application of media training.  In this paper, media relations and media training tips will be listed in a Top 10 format from several untitled video seminars that were recorded and produced exclusively for Olympic level athletes by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC).

In a USOC media training video hosted by “The Speaking Specialists” (a Chicago based company founded in 1986), Sue Casterino and Randy Minkoff give tips and strategies to Olympians for public speaking in a variety of domains i.e. press conferences, media interviews, job interviews, motivational speaking, and more.  Below is a summary of their tips:

  1. Avoid carbonated drinks before public speaking (bubbles from carbonation increase likelihood of belching)
  2. Have a public answer for media and a private answer for friends, family, etc. – know your audience
  3. Be animated, use hands when speaking to decrease nervousness, stiffness and increase credibility
  4. Slow down when reading and speaking
  5. Use names of reporters, family, friends, coaches, supporters – everyone likes to hear their name and get attention
  6. Tell your personal story and make it interesting
  7. Stand up when giving phone interviews to radio, print media – you sound better when standing
  8. Look at interviewer versus the camera – the camera will find you
  9. Find someone or several people who are paying attention and focus on them (builds your confidence)
  10. In a 60 minute speech, save 15 minutes at end for questions

In another USOC media training video, snippets from several interviews of Olympians were used, evaluated, and a Bill of Rights for media was given.  Below is a summary of that info:

  1. Your ability to publicly speak is a skill just like your sport – you must practice to be good
  2. Your public perception is decided by how you interact with media
  3. Think before you speak, be gracious rather you win or lose
  4. Plan ahead for media and schedule them in just like you do training
  • You have the right to:
  1. Know the topic in advance
  2. Know how long the interview will last
  3. Ask the reporter to restate confusing questions
  4. Know when you are being quoted or recorded electronically
  5. Correct an interviewer if a question misstates a fact
  6. Excuse yourself politely when completed

In a media role play video held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, hosted by USOC Director of Communications Keith Bryant, for resident athlete shooters, another seminar was given to enhance public speaking to the media and below is a summary of the tips:

  1. Be clear and direct
  2. Address what you know, be honest
  3. You have the right to control the interview
  4. How your respond is how you will be perceived so rise above controversy
  5. Keep public speaking focus on why you are there
  6. Appearance is important and hats/sunglasses may need to be removed indoors
  7. Your answers may be edited for television, radio, & print media
  8. Questions may be edited to fit your answers
  9. For teleconferences, use land lines if possible because cell lines may lose signals
  10. Educate public about your sport, your personality with intelligent answers

The final video seminar evaluated, was also held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and hosted by Jeff Howard, the Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at the University of Denver. In this video, tips for press conferences were the topic and  below is a summary:

  1. Make statements about relevant topics
  2. Be conscious of body position, image, pay attention, & act interested when others are speaking
  3. Remember reporters name when answering questions to build rapport
  4. Tie everything into your team, why you are there, and your focus
  5. Use standard words and avoid slang especially in an international setting
  6. One on one questions happen after group questions in press conferences
  7. Use jokes sparingly (if at all) and based on seriousness/scope of question
  8. Media has a job to do and they are your friend to a degree
  9. Body language is un-viewable for print and radio interviews so be careful how you phrase jokes
  10. Softball or easy questions open press conferences followed by hardball or harder questions 

The video above also gives several tips for you to enhance your ability to speak in public and acts as a summary of the findings above.  You have the opportunity to master these topics and more to increase your media presence in your town and globally – which may help you become a better overall student athlete and eventually master of sport!

 Copyright © by Coach Shannyn ,  All rights reserved

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