They become seen as highly authoritative leaders in their field, and gain immense benefit in raising awareness and brand profile.
Follow our five simple steps if you think you’ve got what it takes to become one of them, and get the ‘M-Factor’.
1. Understand the media mindset
You have to start thinking the same way as the journalist, instinctively getting a ‘feel’ for what makes a good angle the criteria by which reporters and editors decide what makes the cut. A story has to be as relevant as possible for the audience, not just for you, otherwise why should they care Think about what is of wider interest, not just what you want to promote.
2. Have something to say
Programme editors and journalists want a clear line from you about the trends in your sector if you are too wishy-washy, and your views tend towards the ‘on the one hand, on the other’ approach, they will go to someone else. Be realistic about your topic if your company/expertise is in an obscure sector, you’re unlikely to be in demand from BBC Breakfast or the Today programme.
3. Give good sound-bite
Lively, emotive language, for better or for worse, will always tend to drive out pedestrian language when editors have a choice, and remember to talk like a human, avoiding all the industry jargon. A good, memorable quote is like gold-dust come up with these on a regular basis and journalists will love you for it. The Americans can be great at this – think of the boss of the US investment firm Pimco, Bill Gross, who once said the UK bond markets were ‘resting on a bed of nitroglycerine’. No editor can ignore stuff like this.
4. Be ready, willing and able
If you want to be a media star, you have to work at it, and that can mean working at building up a relationship with the right trade journalists, or getting up at a ridiculous hour to come on the radio breakfast shows. To be frank, the person editors choose is often simply the one who agrees to turn up, when others won’t make the effort. Prioritise media requests when you can, if you want them to call back next time.
5. Practice your style
Hardly anybody is good at all of this without practice and rehearsal. When I run media training courses, I find people are often astonished at how they come over in TV or radio interviews they have no idea of their mannerisms, wonky eye-line and use of annoyingly repetitive words and phrases. The good news is that once some of these issues are pointed out, and they have had a few more goes, the improvement can be dramatic. Producers want ‘oven-ready’ commentators they can rely on, not nervous newbies.
Tom Maddocks is the founder and course director of Media Training Associates.