Having been lucky enough to get a couple of tickets to the athletics this week in London there were a few things that I thought company spokespeople could take from the legend that is Usain Bolt. There is no question that he is the King of the athletics track and that people hang on his every word but how can our clients take what he does and add it to a media briefing? Below are five tips that spokespeople could learn from Bolt when dealing with the press.
1. Do your homework – anyone who saw the 200m final could see that Bolt knew his biggest threat came from his training partner Blake. He had obviously done his homework.
The same has to be the same for spokespeople. Ensure you have read the publication before the interview, and read articles recently written by the journalist. He/she is writing for a specific audience and you need to ensure you are pitching what you say to that target.
2. Be nice – Bolt is one of the most media friendly sport superstars out there. Always smiling, posing for photos and playing up to the crowd. It is hard not to like him.
Similarly, spokespeople need to approach interviews in the same manner. Make an effort to appear approachable, get on well with the journalist and enjoy the interview.
3. Don’t panic – is there anyone in the world of sport who could have looked calmer ahead of the biggest race of his life?
Take the Bolt approach to interviews and be calm. Too often people are cautious because they believe the press are there to catch them out. This is not the case. Journalists just want to report the news to their readers objectively.
4. Have something to say – Usain is one of the most charismatic athletes on the circuit. You never quite know what he is going to say or do. Compare him to other competitors who have been media trained to within an inch of his life and never say anything even remotely interesting. Which interview would you rather read?
Spokespeople should take this advice. Don’t sit on the fence being boring and bland. The media are not interested in this. Stand out from the crowd.
5. Be the best – Bolt is the best at what he does. This is why people want to talk to him.
As a spokesperson you need to ensure that you are an expert. Don’t try and blag it or you will never be approached again for comment. Show why they should be speaking to you and demonstrate with compelling comment why you are the go-to expert.