DMG Adds Virtual Training

Happy 2020!

In the first post of the new year, we’re excited to introduce something brand new — Virtual Training.

We love working with our clients in-person, but we also know that time and distance can make it difficult to schedule training when you need it most. Virtual training allows us and you greater flexibility.

Just like DMG’s media training, Virtual Training focuses on best practices for print, radio, and television interviews. Our team will work to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies to further refine visual, vocal, and verbal performance via the same mock interviews and critique as our in-person media trainings. The training is capped at 60 minutes and is customizable — we can accommodate anything from a general refresher to tailored prep for a specific format or show.

If Virtual Training sounds like a great fit for your media training needs, email info@districtmediagroup.com for rates and availability.

Welcome, Brielle!

District Media Group is excited to announce veteran publicist Brielle Colby will be joining District Media Group as the new Director of Media Relations.

Prior to joining District Media Group, Brielle worked in all different aspects of media with a myriad of clients from country musicians, authors, and comedians to politicians and CEOs. Most recently, she was the Publicity Manager for Operation Underground Railroad where she secured media on PBS, ABC Nightly News, CBS and more to help spread awareness of their work and the topic of human trafficking. Before she joined the world of publicity, Brielle began at Fox News where she produced guest segments, handled breaking news in high-pressure environments, and routinely booked high profile guests.

“As DMG continues to build its reach and influence, we are excited to welcome Brielle. Her skills and experience are an invaluable addition to the team and will only further advance DMG’s efforts” said President of District Media Group Beverly Hallberg.

“I am thrilled to be joining District Media Group. Beverly and her team have been helping their clients develop their skills and confidence while elevating their message on all media platforms. I look forward to helping their team extend their influence and reach further” said Brielle Colby.

 

How to win the mental game

Nailing a media interview is equal parts technique and mental game, but more attention is often paid to the importance of mastering what you say and how you say it rather than your mindset before and during the interview.

We’re here to say that your mindset matters and will absolutely determine an interview’s success. So, before you put all your effort into mastering talking points, body language, and facial expressions, it’s worth your time to develop the right mindset.

Here are three ways to do so:

#1 — Realize perfection is a process
Your first few interviews probably won’t be great, and that’s ok. There is a learning curve everyone has to face, but the one obstacle that will keep you from making progress is fear. You have to allow yourself to be human, make mistakes, and learn. A good perspective to keep: if you’re speaking about an issue you believe in, the worst that can happen is you’ll think about how you *could’ve* made the point better, but you won’t ever regret making the point.

#2 — Don’t be afraid of the media
A media interview IS NOT a battle of wits between you and the reporter. It’s your job to acknowledge the question asked and then immediately pivot to your talking point. If helpful, think of the reporter as a facilitator. They are there to fill air time and ask questions. It’s up to you whether the discussion is meaningful.

#3 — Always speak to the audience
Consider who you’re speaking to and what you want them to know regardless of the question asked. People are tuning in to hear from you and get your perspective on an issue, so give them your perspective.

Gov. Northam: A Cautionary Tale in Crisis Management

You don’t have to be a PR professional to understand that Gov. Northam absolutely failed in his response to a racist photo that surfaced last week. Between his initial reaction on Friday to the follow-up press conference on Saturday, there’s a lot to talk about.

We want to focus on something that people in the public eye struggle to do—admit they’re wrong. Responding to a crisis isn’t easy as you risk destroying personal and professional relationships, but Gov. Northam’s “apology” fell short as he gave into the popular narrative of “I’m not that person.” 

Here’s how we think Gov. Northam should’ve handled the situation:

  1. Don’t say “I’m not that person.” 
  2. Instead, admit you’re wrong and say you’re sorry.
  3. And then explain what you’ve learned/how you’ve grown since the incident.

It’s painful to admit you’re wrong, but this strategy is much less newsworthy than a denial, reversal, and offer to moonwalk. If you get out in front of the story, the story will never exist.

Makeup Artist Rec!

One of the best parts of our day is interacting with a lot of talented people in many different industries. But maybe the one that has the biggest impact on how we’re perceived is the makeup artist. These people make us look good, and we appreciate them.

Whether in the TV studio, on a stage, or posing for a new head shot, your hair and makeup matter. So, why not trust the professionals to help you look your best??

We’d like to introduce you to Carolyn Berry.

Carolyn is a makeup artist in the Washington DC area. She regularly prepares FOX News talent and guests for their work on TV, but was previously employed at CNN and HLN. She is represented by AMAX talent agency in Nashville TN, and her specialty is developing the look to match the vibe that the client needs for each individual project.

Carolyn is a developer at heart and loves to teach. She held positions as the Education Coach at the Aveda Institute and as a regional corporate beauty trainer with Walgreens. After 20 years in the business, Carolyn is still in love with what makeup can do for the spirit, bringing her talent, professionalism & enthusiasm to every job. She is certified as a master esthetician and licensed educator with a focus on holistic health and wellness.

If you’d like to hire Carolyn for your next event or TV appearance, you can contact her here. We highly recommend you do!

BEWARE: Early Voting

The media are hungry for predictions ahead of midterms, and they have their sights set on early voting. But as we’ve warned (here and here), making a prediction leads nowhere good. The safe play is to answer the prediction question by pivoting to what’s more important.

Here’s what we mean:

Q: Voter turnout for early voting is high at 8.1 million and counting, with more Republicans casting ballots than Democrats. Does this mean the “blue wave” is receding?

A: “The high voter turnout is interesting, but it’s too early to make a prediction about results and the “blue wave.” No matter which party controls Congress post-midterms, the issue we need to focus on is <insert talking point>.”

Acknowledge the high voter turnout but refuse to make a prediction. The more substantive answer will pivot to a pressing policy issue. And if they push you to make a prediction, push back by explaining that early voting numbers don’t give us the data we need to make an accurate prediction. Sure, it’s interesting that a lot of people have turned out, and that a larger number of Republicans have cast votes, but there is no guarantee that a registered Republican voted for Republicans.

EXCEPTION: If you’re working on a campaign, you have to predict that your candidate will win. No matter how unlikely it seems, a victory is always the right (and expected) prediction.

Why Nikki Haley is so popular

As Nikki Haley prepares to step down from her position as UN ambassador at the end of the year, her popularity on both sides of the aisle has come into sharp focus. In April, Quinnipiac released a poll that showed Republicans and Democrats liked Haley 75-9 and 55-23, respectively.

With numbers like that, Nikki Haley might be the most popular politician in America right now. But why? We think her communication game has a lot to do with it. Here are the three things she does that we wish more politicians would consider:

#1 — She stands up for herself.
Haley has responded to a number of unfair comments about her and her motivations, but the tussle ignited by Larry Kudlow highlights how good she is at standing up for herself:

“When a White House official suggested this week that United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley had suffered ‘momentary confusion’ over the Trump Administration’s approach to new Russian sanctions, she responded with a clear message to the contrary. ‘With all due respect, I don’t get confused.’

Haley could’ve ignored or apologized for the attack, but instead she defended herself with confidence and clarity.

#2 — She doesn’t take sides.
As a female, Haley had to address the allegations against her boss that surfaced in the 2016 campaign, and she did so in the best way possible:

“More than a dozen women came forward during the 2016 campaign with allegations of unwanted touching or kissing or other forms of sexual harassment. Haley addressed the allegations on CBS’s Face the Nation, after discussing North Korea’s missile tests and the plan to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Haley told host John Dickerson that women who feel that they were harassed by Trump have ‘every right to speak up’ and ‘we should all be willing to listen to them.’

Haley didn’t discuss details or place blame, but instead focused on what everyone is seeking — the truth.

#3 — She’s tough.
There are numerous examples of Haley’s “take no prisoners” approach as UN ambassador, but the following statement is a good example of the kind of speech she’s now famous for:

“[In March 2017, Haley spoke] to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), [and] said the U.S. was putting countries ‘on notice.’  The U.S. now will ‘actually act on what we say,’ she said. ‘If you challenge us,’ she said, ‘be prepared for what you’re challenging us for, because we will respond.’

Women are often categorized as shrill or aggressive when they talk tough, but Haley hasn’t received that same characterization. When she’s tough, she speaks simply and clearly and exudes confidence.

How to Host a Podcast

Podcasts are a dime a dozen these days, but only the few, the proud, the very good survive. Why? Star power and high production quality don’t hurt, but we’d like to argue that a podcast’s success hinges on the host’s ability to…host. It’s about more than sitting behind a mic and hitting “record.” A good host is in control and drives the conversation from beginning to end.

Here’s how we suggest you do it:

#1 — Prepare your guest

Not every episode will include a guest interview, but a few might. If you’re preparing to interview someone, make sure you manage their expectations. Send questions ahead of time, but also ask if there’s a topic they’d like to discuss. Finding and highlighting their enthusiasm makes for a more compelling conversation. Make sure you’ve read through their bio in advance, and don’t be afraid to ask for a punchier version – you will lose a listener (or 3) over a long bio. And finally, end the conversation with a shout out to their social media accounts and website.

#2 — Transition seamlessly

The most awkward moments usually involve a transition, so it’s important you practice. Know how you plan to welcome the audience, introduce yourself/co-host/guests, segue between segments, and sign off. Your goal is to immediately capture the audience’s attention, which you risk losing via a sloppy or awkward transition. If you feel awkward, the audience probably feels awkward, and they will stop listening.

#3 — Have a conversation

Though you already know what you plan to ask (because you took our advice and sent questions in advance, right??), your conversation with the guest is more than a Q&A session. The questions should serve as your guide, but also play off what the guest says. If they bring up an interesting point, ask a follow-up question or acknowledge their answer and block and bridge to a new question. If you mindlessly ask questions and fail to make connections between answers, the episode will sound rehearsed. Remember: the audience wants to listen in on a conversation between you and your guest, so the goal is to make them believe that’s what’s happening.

Understanding how to host is only one part of podcasting. Thankfully, the Leadership Institute is organizing its Conservative Podcasting School on October 15-16 to teach you EVERYTHING there is to know about how to start a podcast. We highly recommend you register to attend.

The key to your audience’s heart

Humor goes a long way to make someone like you, and we think there’s no better approach than self-deprecation. If used appropriately, self-deprecating humor has the power to instantly unite speaker and audience for the simple reason that it’s hard to dislike someone who’s just made fun of himself.

Here’s our best advice for how to be self-deprecating:

#1 — State the obvious

Does the audience know something unflattering about you? Has the media latched onto a past mistake you wish to not be identified with anymore? Then use this opportunity to make a joke about it. (The keyword here is “obvious,” so the joke only works if everyone knows what you’re talking about.)

For example… “[George W. Bush often] beat comedians to the punch by telling many jokes at his own expense. He opened the 2005 Correspondents’ Dinner, for example, by saying, ‘I look forward to these dinners where I’m supposed to be funny . . . intentionally.’”

#2 — Play off the unexpected

If something happens during your presentation that is unexpected – mic fades, lights blink, you trip on stage – laugh about it. If you ignore the mishap, the audience will continue to think about the awkward moment you didn’t acknowledge instead of what you’re saying.

For example… “How refreshing, then, was Romney’s quip upon taking the stage with glitter in his hair, thanks to an ambush from a gay activist: ‘That’s not all that’s in my hair, I’ll tell you that…I glue it on every morning, whether I need to or not.’”

#3 — Don’t apologize

The last thing an audience wants to hear as they settle in for your presentation is a disclaimer. Do not apologize for being tired, having less star power than the previous speaker, etc. Instead, make fun of yourself.

For example… If you’re the last speaker of the day, joke about how you have the power to hold the audience hostage, delaying happy hour well past the time that anyone can be considered happy anymore. Insert a line about “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

FINAL NOTE. Be self-deprecating, but not too much. There’s a fine line between ingratiating yourself and making the audience feel bad for you. One joke at your expense is enough.

How to talk about #metoo

The testimony this week will again remind us of the #MeToo moment we’re living in. It’s tragic, it’s pervasive, and the way we communicate about it will have consequences. It seems obvious that you want to speak carefully and factually whenever you’re asked about sexual harassment claims, but HOW and WHEN you say what you say matters.

Step 1: Don’t do this.

Step 2: Consider this approach instead.

  • Don’t pretend to know the facts.
  • Reiterate that it’s important to know the truth before making a judgment.
  • If a claim seems politically motivated, focus on the process rather than the victim’s authority.

Here’s an example of how you can navigate a reporter’s question about sexual harassment claims you know nothing (or very little) about:

Q: Who do you think is telling the truth?

A: These are serious allegations, and it’s irresponsible to make a judgment before we know all the facts. I hope, for the sake of both parties involved, that the facts come out soon.