Reverse Media Training

Most of us are aware that CEOs, celebrities and high profile athletes receive training on how to speak with and answer questions with the media. This training comes at a time where mere impromptu responses, unthought out remarks and passive aggressive comments can quickly catapult ones career into early retirement, stock price drops and/or next day “resignations”.

Scripts are often handed to CEOs on how to brief media during turbulent times, responses to common sports questions (What did you think of the opposition? Who are you signing for next years season? What were your coaches words at halftime?) are hard wired into seasoned athletes.

Well known celebrity humans entertain audiences on late night TV shows through well rehearsed, thought out lines which seem as real and authentic as if anyone had said it. Except these responses whilst often true and sometimes heartfelt, are meticulously planned, days and even weeks ahead. It really couldn’t be any other way. In many cases a word or phrase uttered incoherently in the heat of a company collapse could be catastrophic.  

We often watch these events subconsciously aware that what is happening is somewhat fake, but we listen because there is usually truth. We are all akwardly aware  when a human crumbles under a sensitive question and turns on the media.

Or, when a person begins ranting incoherently about a topic which somewhat pleasingly appears more authentic, more theatrical and yet more damaging to their career.

Most of us don’t face the pressure of a wrong sentence uttered or a misstep answering a tricky question. Where we face the pressure and potential suffering is on the other end. When the athlete potentially, possibly, most probably has signed a new deal, we want to believe it. When the CEO makes a comment about a political movement, war or a piece of history that is muddied, we want to react based on our beliefs. When a celebrity loses their cool and suddenly appears “human” we risk moving to judgement before compassion.

You have either been born into the world of misinformation and over abundance of it or you’ve slowly but surely accepted the fate of 24 hour news cycles, push notifications and viral content. What we haven’t learned is how to digest such a plethora of data. No media training, no briefing of how to direct clickbait and no real education on when, how and why to stop scrolling. 

Perhaps if we could teach ourselves what we really needed to focus on throughout a daily basis, we could filter out much of the noise and narrow our attention to important local and global issues. For this we need some understanding and clarification.

Some thoughts to help our human selves deal with the noise 

  • If an article written by a news company receives little to no interest, it’s very unlikely that more will be written in relation. Your attention on it counts.
  • We are wired to absorb information. Before news could travel any faster than one human could share it, any news was generally helpful news. Now we are faced with more news than we need, yet we a still wired to want it. Ask yourself “Is this really worth reading?”
  • There is always something good and something bad going on in the world. Additionally, we often feel more compassion for a lost dog in our neighbourhood than we do for 1 billion people without fresh drinking water.
  • If you find yourself angry, concerned or catapulted into rage by content, if possible (which it nearly always is if it doesn’t directly and immediately affect you) consider a “reply hiatus”. This may mean sleeping on something which is the human equivalent of a “system reboot”.  Get a good nights sleep and address it in the morning.
  • There is no end to a social media news feed. You’ll never reach the bottom. If you’ve ever used a slot machine you may see the parallels of gambling for the next “win” and the small hit of adrenaline as you pull the lever (or scroll with your finger) anticipating what will come up next. The house always wins, only if you stay long enough.
  • In my experience there are three main ways to get attention: Be controversial, clued up or charismatic. Two of these combined make for a powerful message, good or bad.

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