By Jennigay Coetzer

Spokespeople tips-The agendas of the mediaTo get the best out of interacting with the media it is important for spokespeople to know the difference between their agendas and the agendas of the media interviewer and how to bridge the gap between the two.


Otherwise a media interview can end up with the spokesperson and the journalist having two different conversations, with the journalist asking questions that he or she expects to be answered while the spokesperson is bent on promoting his products and services.

Spokespeople’s agenda

Companies appoint spokespeople to interact with the media to promote brand awareness and image and get their marketing messages across. Spokespeople are tasked with spreading the word about what their company is doing and how successful it is.

They are on a mission to attract new business and make existing customers feel good about dealing with them with a view to selling more products and services. On the other hand, journalists and other media interviewers are in competition with their peers to get the best story and their audience is their main focus and always top of mind.

The media interviewer’s agenda

Media interviewers are not interested in how much money the spokesperson’s company is making, how successful it is or how good its products and services are, except when this information is of interest to their audience. They are looking for information that will interest and enlighten their audience to bring them the latest news and trends and keep them coming back for more.

They know their readers, listeners or viewers are looking for information that will keep them up to date with what is going on locally and globally that could affect their lifestyle or business interests, the economy, the political environment or the markets in which they operate.

Spokespeople need to engage with the media interview

So to engage in a meaningful conversation with a media interviewer spokespeople needs to understand and identify with what the audience would be interested in hearing as opposed to focusing solely on what they want to tell them. This requires having a good grasp of the current trends that are going on in the markets in which they operate and the influencing factors behind them.

Being able to discuss these during a media interview will prepare the fertile ground for planting their company messages.

It is important to note that media interviewers will be asking questions on behalf of their audience and may therefore ask seemingly simplistic questions when in reality they already know the answers. In fact they may even be more knowledgeable about the topic being discussed than the spokesperson.

But they are looking for the spokesperson’s opinion, and will probably be asking other spokespeople the same questions to get a bigger picture view. Except when talking to the trade press, spokespeople need to interact with the media in practical terms and not punctuate what they are saying with unexplained jargon and acronyms.

Otherwise they will alienate the audience by making them feel inadequate for not understanding what has been said, or in the case of journalists writing articles leave it in their hands to interpret the gobbledegook, which is dangerous.

Spokespeople will benefit from media training

Jennigay Coetzer’s media training workshops will provide media spokespeople with the techniques to use their media interaction to create a pull through for business or meet other objectives.

Jennigay Coetzer is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and author and has been running media training workshops and coaching sessions for more than 17 years. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not?, a guideline to writing press releases, can be downloaded free from her website. Jennigay also provides writing courses.

Comments are closed.