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Nine questions for a successful media interview

Sarah Travers media interview

So you’ve been promoting your story on social media, sending out press releases, getting in touch with journalists and doing everything you can to make sure your organisation’s message is heard in the media. You really want to secure a media interview for your story. You have no budget for a PR agency, and you’re happy to take the task on yourself. You’ve just awarded yourself ‘top PR’ in your own mind and nipped out for a coffee to tell your friend in the next building all about your hard work. And when you get back to your desk, you have a message to return a journalist’s call – they want an interview. Props to you!! So what do you do next?

Here’s a list of nine questions to ask the journalist to help you prepare:


  1. Collect the basics – name, news organisation, tel contact, Twitter handle
  2. Tell me more about the story you’re working on. Are you approaching the story from any perspective?
  3. Who else are you interviewing?
  4. What’s the format – print, TV, radio, live, over the phone?
  5. What exactly do you need from me?
  6. What journalist will be conducting the interview?
  7. How long will the interview take?
  8. Do you have a deadline? Respect this! Journalists are under huge pressure to meet deadlines, help them out.
  9. Spell your name and organisation name – preferably email it!

When you’re working up your next campaign, careful preparation gives your media interview a greater chance of success. Print off this list to prepare your messaging for an interview that’s more interesting for the viewer, more helpful for the journalist and helps to promote your organisation better.


Three top tips that will transform your networking forever

networking TEDx Speaker Susan HayesCulleton

I had the great fortune to meet the Positive Economist, Susan Hayes, for the first time today. Susan was at DigitalDNA to help Mary McKenna launch the Irish International Business Network in Northern Ireland Apart from the convincing anecdotes she shared on the power of networking, Susan had plenty of practical takeaways to help us all to get more out of events we attend.

Number 1. It’s all about the follow up

Don’t just make space in your diary to attend the event, make sure that you allow time to follow up! After each event, Susan takes the time to think about everyone she’s met, and how she can add value to them. When she follows up after the event, she shares content, makes an introduction or tries in some way to be helpful. That’s the best example of the #giversgain approach to networking that I’ve heard in a long time. Be generous within your network without the expectation of something in return. You’ll find that it comes full circle – positivity breeds positivity! For more on the compelling power of reciprocation, read Robert Cialdini’s classic ‘Influence’, a book on the psychology of persuasion that remains relevant today, even thirty years after it was first published.

Number 2. Take control

Time out of the office is precious. Make sure every event you attend delivers value. Why not ask a prospect or client to accompany you to the next event you’re attending? That way, you get to bask in the positive glow the event creates without the need to go to the trouble of arranging your own event. You get to share your network with your contact, making the event a win-win for you both. For more on this, watch Susan’s TEDxBelfast talk (about the 15 minute mark).

Number 3. Enjoy your network!

The last word on this blog goes to the indomitable Mary McKenna, who convened today’s panel in the first place. Mary doesn’t network to sell more stuff or to find people who benefit her, but to ‘collect interesting people’. It’s back to that #giversgain thing again. Find people you like, enjoy their company, help them out and watch how it all comes back to you.

What about you? Networking, love it or hate it? We hope that this advice from two champion networkers will help you make your networking more interesting and productive.

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Stories …. even in a business presentation

TED Speaker Amy Cuddy

Effective stories can change our opinions, they can inspire us to achieve goals that we didn’t think were possible, and they can show us how we can change things for the better. But for some people telling stories just doesn’t seem professional or technical enough. Storytelling is associated with words like ‘fiction’ or ‘fabrication’, and feels a bit personal and subjective.

But in a business presentation, stories can make the difference between success and failure. Stories help us to grasp information and retain it long after the presentation is over. Did you know that your audience is over 20 times more likely to remember a message when it’s conveyed using a story than they will remember any individual statistic used to back the story up (1)?  There is a lot that we in business can learn from the TED Talk model. Here are some greats for you to ponder:

Building trust

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Watch this TED Talk, where Bryan uses a full five minutes of his introduction to set the scene with an endearing and personal story. The audience gets to understand what makes Bryan tick, and why his work is so important to him.



Conveying an idea

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, investigates how people judge and influence each other. Her 2012 TED Talk was the inspiration behind her recent bestseller Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. In this TED Talk, watch how she uses stories to make the case for you to Fake it till you make it.


Emotional connection

For third sector organisations, emotional connections are so important to influence your audiences. We admire how James Nesbitt skilfully brings us to a time and a place in this keynote to the Alzheimers Research UK annual conference. He’s got a moving story to tell and it really resonates.


Do you have a favourite speaker that you’d like to share with us? Come chat on Facebook or Twitter, we’re always keen to hear about great communicators!

(1) Made to Stick (2007), Dan and Chip Heath, Arrow Books


Business networking for fun and gains

business networking

Bespoke Communications was delighted to partner with the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and Business in the Community to host a business networking workshop at the Londonderry Chamber offices on May 5th last. We enjoyed the company of lots of local businesses, and we hope that our delegates made good connections to develop their own business networks from the event.

When we read the feedback comments, it seemed to us that the three top takeaways were:

‘Givers Gain’. Attending a networking event with a givers mindset makes it so much easier to walk into a room full of strangers and not feel like you have to push and promote yourself all the time. How can you help the person you’re talking to or how can someone else in your network help them?

Go on, push yourself out of your comfort zone. There are lots of reasons to network and bagging business is not always the sole focus. Apart from the fact that networking can be fun when you get used to it :-), some of the benefits of networking are access to information (we would never call it gossip!), access to ideas and support and the confidence you gain from meeting people who are experiencing many of the same ups and downs as you.

Develop a network event elevator pitch. Work on an intro that’s no longer than 20 seconds.  Can you manage an interesting intro in a single line?  Your goal is to open a two-way conversation, not a monologue!  As a result, the person you’e speaking to will really understand what you do. They might not be your target audience, but it’s very possible they know someone who is. If they understood what you do, then they’ll remember how to describe you properly to their network of friends and acquaintances long after the event is over.

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Speaker masterclass from Joe Schmidt, Ireland Rugby Head Coach – #BeMoreJoe

speaker Joe Schmidt Ireland Rugby

I’m a big fan of Dan Pink, author of ‘To Sell is Human’, TED speaker and all-round irreverent dispenser of great business advice. I watched a video recently where he gave his viewers a top tip – ‘Make sure you leave people full of energy after an encounter with you’. I recently heard Joe Schmidt address the Londonderry Chamber’s President’s Breakfast as keynote speaker. After the event at the Everglades Hotel, I felt ready to take on the world.

There is no question that Joe Schmidt has the ability to energise and has used it to lead Ireland Rugby through thick and thin. And whilst Bespoke Communications always has an eye to leadership, and might even watch a rugby match or two, we’re in the business of developing expert communicators. So what top tips could we take away from Joe’s speech to pass on in our next Presentation Skills workshop?

Gavin Killeen, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President and Joe Schmidt, Ireland Rugby Head Coach with Bespoke Communication's Camilla Long

Gavin Killeen, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President and Joe Schmidt, Ireland Rugby Head Coach with Bespoke Communication’s Camilla Long

Think of your audience

Think of your audience.Above all, Joe had an audience of business leaders from Londonderry Chamber. We heard a speech peppered with rugby anecdotes, but they were always used to illustrate a leadership behaviour in the workplace.  My top take-away was – ‘always invest in your subs’. How many of you can remember matches where the star performers had to leave the pitch ? Then the subs have to step up and carry the match.  Everyone has a role to play in the workplace too.

Connect emotionally

Make me care. We won’t all be lucky enough to have epic stories of sporting prowess to call on when we do our next presentation at the weekly management meeting. So what? Joe dug deep and spoke of the lows as well, very public losses where his leadership was questioned. Tactics for resilience in the face of defeat may be even more relevant to business leaders in our complex world. Joe made a connection with his audience with stories we could identify with . His message will sing long after he’s left the room.

Win our trust

Did Joe build trust as a speaker? Absolutely. There was congruence between his words and the stories he told. He smiled, took in everyone in the room, paced his speech and was expressive in his delivery. Most of all, we loved how he wove his speech back around to lay down the gauntlet to Gavin Killeen, Londonderry Chamber President. Gavin had delivered an empassioned speech of his own directly beforehand. But that’s a blog for another day! After Gavin and Joe’s speeches, we’ll all try to play our part in helping future generations of young people.

After that masterclass, we think that we should all #BeMoreJoe when we stand up to speak! And the great news is that speaking is a skill, not a talent. If you feel like your speaking skills are a bit out of date, check these resources to find approaches to making your next speech more compelling.