By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner
I recently spoke at the NIRI Fundamentals of IR Seminar on “Media and Communications,” and the part of the presentation that generated the most discussion was on how to conduct “media training” for CEOs, CFOs and other corporate spokespeople. Of course, the most difficult part of media training can sometimes be convincing the executive that they need help. But once you clear that high hurdle, there are three basic steps to help prepare senior management for a successful interview.
1) Establish key messages. Without significant interview experience or preparation, your CEO is likely to a) offer rambling responses to questions, b) divulge too much information, and/or c) miss an opportunity to convey the messages you want to get across to customers, investors, employees or other important stakeholder audiences. Prior to the interview, create three to five key messages and supporting proof points that you want to make sure appear in the story. When you are developing key messages, think about the audience for the particular interview and the points that you want to convey to that specific stakeholder group. Look at it this way: if you were writing the article for the reporter, what messages would you include? Those are the messages that management should use in the answers to the reporter’s questions whenever possible. Politicians often do this very well. For example, earlier this year British Labour leader Ed Miliband famously repeated his position on strikes taking place in the UK in several successive questions during a BBC interview.