TUESDAY TIP: A blueprint for hostile questions

Last week marked a stunning moment in America as we watched Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Senators repeatedly attack Russ Vought, the administration’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), not on his qualifications for the job but on his personal faith.

Irate that Vought stood by his Christian beliefs, Sanders concluded his line of questioning by stating: “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”

Though he didn’t come out and say it, Sanders seemed to suggest one’s faith makes him or her unfit to serve public office. (Have you even read the Constitution?! Please see the First Amendment.)

The exchange between several U.S. Senators and a professing Christian was shocking, but there is good news. Vought gave us a blueprint for how to respond to hostile questions – faith-based or otherwise.

On this Tip Tuesday, let’s analyze Vought’s stellar performance:

 

He did two very important things: 1) he stated what he is, not what he’s not and 2) he never repeated accusations.

 

By only stating what he is and not repeating accusations, Vought successfully stood his ground and won the exchange. He wasn’t defensive, he was confident. And he won the sympathy of the viewing audience.

Now, go and do likewise.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: Correcting the host

We’ve all been there. An introduction gone wrong, and no one knows if it’s polite to offer a correction. But what happens when it occurs in a live interview in front of millions (rough estimate) of people?

 

Q: “Should I correct the host?”

A: “No, and here’s why…”

 

Offering a correction can break your rapport with the host, embarrass them, or lead to an uncomfortable moment which could sidetrack your interview. Instead, extend some grace and let it slide. This also applies to fellow guests/panelists who mispronounce your name, title, organization, or a line in your bio.

But like any good rule, there is an exception – DMG recommends correcting the host or fellow guest/panelist if they say something that changes the essence, meaning, or intention of what you are saying or have said. Jump in and politely clarify if you feel like they misrepresented you and/or your message.

ICYMI, past Tuesday Tips have focused on sunglassessleeves, and sweat. All are worth a read as the temps increase this week.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: Don’t let ’em see you sweat!

When you live in a swamp like DC, avoiding sweat becomes a full-time hobby in the warmer months. And if Al Gore can be trusted (jk!), this “planetary emergency” called summer is about to trigger our sweat glands all over again, which can present a bit of a problem for TV interviews.

Couple the higher temps with nerves about speaking to the media and you risk looking like this:

So, how do you appear young and fresh in an interview that might have you hot, bothered, and sweaty?

Here are a few tips to avoid the “pit stain” look:

1.  Make sure the color and type of fabric you wear hides pit stains. Light colors (i.e. pastels) are a great option. Men, you can wear a jacket to easily hide any embarrassing marks. Women, make sure to wear breathable fabrics (no silk!).

2.  Apply baby powder or talcum powder after you apply deodorant. It will absorb extra sweat in the armpit area.

3.  Undershirts – hot and annoying, but they work.

4.  Opt for a ride (taxi, Uber, Lyft) instead of walking to/from the interview location.

5.  We heard somewhere that caffeine makes you sweat more. But there’s no way we’re giving up our coffee, so we don’t expect you to either. Instead, apply tips 1-4 and hope for the best.

ICYMI, we’ve also tackled the appropriateness of sunglasses and sleeves in TV interviews. Click to read more!

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: Sleeves

As we transition our wardrobes from “phew, this sweater hides my extra brownies” to “OMG IT’S SWIMSUIT SEASON!,” we thought we’d breakdown the appropriate sleeve length on camera.

Hint, hint. This isn’t it:

Sleeve length matters in a tight camera shot. Going sleeveless is fine for women if the strap is wide—a too-skinny strap and it’ll look like you’re wearing a bathing suit on national TV.

Ladies, since we’re pretty sure Megyn Kelly’s look isn’t what you’re going for, here are two DMG-approved options:

Whichever option you chose–sleeves or no sleeves–you need to commit. Why? Because a mid-sleeve or cap sleeve tends to cut off the arm in a weird spot. You know what else makes your arm look segmented?

Cutting off your own sleeves.

Maybe this goes without saying, but…DON’T DO THIS ^^

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: Sunglasses in a TV interview. Yay? Or nay?

NAY. ALWAYS NAY. But let us explain…

Temps are rising, days are getting longer, and we’re finally moving outdoors – both personally and professionally.

What do we mean?

The possibility of a TV interview outside is a real and present danger in the coming months, and so we want you to be prepared. Over the next few weeks, we’ll highlight what to do and what NOT to do in front of the camera in the great outdoors.

Today’s focus is your eyes. Specifically, what NOT to do.

Q: “Can I wear sunglasses in TV interviews outside?”

A: “No. And here’s why…”

 

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it proves our point. Though we understand that the sun (or any bright light) can be distracting, resist the temptation to keep those cool aviators on when the camera is rolling.

We know that wearing sunglasses makes your experience better, but it makes the viewer’s experience worse. We want to be able to make eye contact with someone, or watch people make eye contact with each other. It’s how we judge people’s character and the validity of their statements.

Leave the sunglasses at home, grin and bear it. And if the bright rays prove intolerable, ask the camera crew to move you to the shade.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: “Does this make me look fat??

‘Tis that time again for all things chocolate and love and #RelationshipGoals.

But what seems like a joyous occasion can take a dark turn if you’re confronted with (and fumble) the question: “does this make me look fat??”

Yikes. Not a question anyone wants to answer honestly. So, how do you remain truthful and not devastate the asker?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, Valentine’s Day AND B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely question from your significant other and the B² (block and bridge) that keeps you off the couch and/or out of the dog house:

 

Q: “Does this <insert article of clothing> make me look fat?”

B²: “You are stunning. I really love that (color/style/neckline – element of clothing not related to size) on you. <Insert how beautiful she is for all the reasons>.”

 

Guys, wherever you take the conversation next, do not pass go, do not collect $200, DO NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION. It’s a trap. You actually can’t answer this question as presented and win. You have to block and bridge. Don’t you dare let your ego tell you otherwise. Just accept that this is a trap and answer as we’ve instructed.

Ladies, give your guy a break and listen to what he says, not what he doesn’t say. You’ve put him in a terrible position by asking this question because he either has to lie or tell the truth, neither of which we want to hear, tbh.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: He Said, She Said

trump-clinton

So, that happened.

A lot of people tuned in to witness Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton strike the careful balance between policy talk and entertainment television. Americans want to know where the candidates stand on the issues, but also demand a meme-able moment…or 7.

Last night delivered. With a one-on-one split screen that just wouldn’t quit, the candidates were on full display. And a non-existent moderator allowed both to trade unassisted monologues and attack each other without limitation.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, in a debate without a moderator to interrupt or apply a timeline, how do you defend yourself?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q:

“<Insert Hillary’s attack on tax returns>.”

B²:

“<Dismiss tax return claim and quickly pivot to Clinton Foundation>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, very quickly discredit the claim and then attack your opponent. When Hillary mentioned Trump’s tax returns, the best response would’ve been to dismiss it and then attack her on the Clinton Foundation. A worthy attack he didn’t take advantage of, which seems to be the theme of the night…on both sides. In a debate, you always want to move from defense to offense. In. Every. Answer.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

3 Ways to Talk About Conservatism With a Liberal

“As the mantra of ‘Don’t discuss politics or religion’ repeats like a drumbeat in your head, you settle on ‘How about that game?’

Your desperate search for the safest question to ask a colleague as you wait for the morning coffee to brew is understandable. But you can find a way.

If conservatives refrain from engaging in the narrative, we let the media and politicians (ahem, President Barack Obama) paint us as crazy people who cling to ‘guns or religion.'”

Coffee Talk

President of DMG Beverly Hallberg is debuting a column in The Daily Signal to help you talk to the people in your life (think neighbors, co-workers, family, friends) about conservative issues. Check out the first installment!

B²: “No comment.”

Blame it on the holiday weekend, or DMG’s goal to rid every client of all the bad habits, but this week’s B² (block and bridge) is less issue-specific and more best practice.

Few things in life are guaranteed like responding “no comment” in a media interview and writing your on-the-record statement.

Why?

Because so many have used it and abused it. “No comment” doesn’t mean “no comment,” or at least no one thinks it does. Instead, the phrase is an undeniable WARNING that you are guilty or clueless. Either you did it, you know who did it, you legally can’t share information that confirms that accusation, or you have no idea what the reporter is talking about.

Happens to the best of us. So what’s the right way to answer a question you absolutely don’t want to answer and not make headlines?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “<Insert probing/accusatory question you don’t want to answer>.”

B²: “Here’s how I’d put it – <rephrase the question> <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, know that you have options. It’s ok to refuse the interview if you fear the reporter asking you questions you don’t want to/can’t answer. You can also rephrase the question. Your goal should always be to control the interview, and that goal doesn’t change if you’re asked a “gotcha” question. Be mindful of the reporter or host and his/her angle, then decide if the interview is beneficial to your organization, cause, or candidate. If not, politely refuse. If so, proceed with a B² in your back pocket.

But whatever you do, don’t say “no comment.”

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

Special Offer!

If you don’t already subscribe to DMG’s monthly newsletter, you’re missing out.

Last week, a really great offer was made to all subscribers – a free media critique! If you have a recent clip of an interview (radio or TV) that you want feedback on, DMG is happy to provide a critique for free (a $100/clip value). To get yours, email info@districtmediagroup.com, put “media critique” somewhere in the subject line, and include a link to your interview. That’s it. A few days later, you will receive personalized feedback on how you did and how you can improve visually, vocally, and verbally.

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