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  • Writer's pictureRed Shoe Communications

The CEO, the Journalist, and You

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

You’ve secured a media interview for your CEO. She needs to prepare, and with her always-busy schedule, has no time. 

In a perfect world, she’d prepare thoroughly with a coach. In this imperfect world, you step in.

What are the absolute minimum steps you must take to ensure she delivers the brand message well?

In a time-starved world, here are two absolute non-negotiables:

  • One key message

  • Anticipating questions

If you do nothing else, you must take these essential steps to get your CEO on track.

First, zoom in to that one key message. Focus her attention on delivering this message. If the audience only took away one thought, what do you want it to be? Get her delivering it convincingly, compelling, consistently. Ensure she’s ready to deliver it even if the question isn’t posed in the way she hopes.

Second, anticipate questions. Brainstorm what the journalist will ask, based on your pitch, his recent articles, your corporate developments and the hottest topics in the market today.

You likely have a dense FAQ book already. This is a solid resource. But if your CEO doesn’t have time to sit down with a coach, she certainly isn’t going to spend hours studying the FAQs. Your job is to distil the most important and most likely questions into a brief – emphasis on brief.

You must include key data on the publication and journalist, as this will never be as obvious to your CEO as it is to you. Pare it down to the absolute basics.

For questions, match the answers to your CEO’s style. Is she a full-sentence type or a bullet-point person? Make the material as accessible and easy to remember as possible.

Be sure you are standing in the journalist’s shoes as you prepare these questions and answers. Journalists seldom ask those ‘how have you done so well?’ questions, and are more likely to seek criticism of your competitors. She must be prepared to diplomatically move off no-go territory and confidently segue to topics she wants – and the journalist likes. Of course this requires a host of media engagement techniques and a lifetime of practice, but an experienced CEO will already have that under her belt. In this moment, you’re just getting her on track to use her skills. 

Prepare for your short meeting with her as deliberately as you’d prepare for the interview yourself. Choose the one instruction you want to get through to her most resoundingly. Deliver that concisely, with your most confident voice. Her busy mind needs that message flagged so she absorbs it.

Be sure you can deliver the one key message compellingly too. Lead her through it by example. If you can deliver it impressively, she can follow your lead.

Even with minimal prep time, your CEO will be equipped with relevant messaging and the right mindset for this interview. Your brevity will help focus her mind and make her interview-ready.

A final life-hack: Tee up your CEO with one observation to create immediate rapport with the journalist. A simple line like “I enjoyed your blockchain article” will set in motion a positive cycle. The rest is up to her.


Written by Julinda Mega, Red Shoe Trainer and Coach. Published on her Linkedin Article:

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