Friday, December 9, 2011

Media Training to Strengthen Your Message


"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan. Roger Ailes, media consultant to four Republican presidents and today Chairman of Fox Television Stations Group, believes that each person is his own message, whatever medium he chooses.

As we watch Republican presidential candidates rise and fall through too many debates and personal issues, we are witness to the Ailes message playing out. In an earlier blog post I commented on Newt Gingrich's big, bright and enthusiastic oratorical style. It took a few debates, but his innate and practiced communication style has caught on; and as of this writing he has finally engaged a large sector of the Republican voters. Newt is surging in the polls.

Newt clearly loves speaking, and he's done a lot of it. And he has tremendous experience from which to draw. Politics is about communicating, and he was re-elected to Congress 10 times; in 1994 he became the first Republican Speaker of the House in 40 years. When he resigned from Congress in 1999, he didn't stop talking. He wrote and cowrote books, made speeches and became a television commentator.

If you're still with me, I think you understand where I'm going. Newt is comfortable in his own skin and appears to be comfortable talking wherever the opportunity appears. Whether at a state fair, on TV interview with a combative hard-news journalist, in a TV debate in a line up of other candidates, or in the sit-down, more intimate Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Herman Cain, Newt relishes speaking and expounding on his ideas. Experience and lots of practice has given him the ability to communicate effectively and persuasively in whatever medium he chooses.

Newt understands the media as probably no one else running for the Republican presidential nomination does. He's been on both sides of the camera, so there isn't anything mysterious or intimidating about studio lights and looking into a camera lens.

Because most of us have not been in the public eye on a daily basis, it's important to undergo training to become better strategic communicators in speaking to the press or with customers or clients. As with most things, 90% of success depends on preparation. Media training gives skills to think under pressure, gather facts to be prepared, and go on the offensive in a defensive situation.

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