As one who at the time of writing has had more than fifty years of experience with the media in all its forms, printed, television, radio and video, I would like to pass on to you some experiences and knowledge how the media works. In your time during your chosen career, your life outside of your profession and perhaps beyond, it is important for you to know how to deal with the media.
The media is never on your side. Never make the mistake thinking that they are. Never make the mistake believing you can use the media to your advantage. You never can. The media will do what it wants to do. Always keep this in mind. The media is not your friend. On occasions it may appear they are, but that is only because they are getting a story or a comment from you, which is to their advantage, not to yours. It may be true that you can also gain from the publicity, but publicity can work both ways, it can be helpful and/or it can be unhelpful.
Always be in charge of your acceptance of the media remembering they are there to use you. It is true you can use them as well, but do not make the mistake you are controlling them. You will not. They are not your friend. They are not there to further your career. It may be true that they can help your career, but keep in mind if it is in their interest they will turn against you and the result will be not what you were hoping it to be.
When being interviewed by the media, stay on the subject, do not stray. Be careful what you say; saying the wrong thing can be disastrous for you. Anything controversial said by you, they will latch on to. That is why I say, be careful what you and stay on the subject. If you can, think and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand. I repeat, do not say outlandish things or controversial, for those comments will be what will be aired. Be careful. Remember too and this is very important and many in the limelight foolishly do not seem to consider it; everyone now has a camera, especially with phone cameras and security cameras. Knowing this be sure you are on your good behaviour at all times. Do not let them catch you out. Speak and behave sensibly. Anyone nowadays think they can have their five minutes of fame, by catching one on a camera in a compromising situation. Most people do not have personal responsibility when it comes to other people; they think only of their selves and what they can get out of it whether it is financial or their moment of brief fame – or it could be a combination of both.
I cannot emphasise your personal responsibility to yourself in this regard and to your family. Be aware of the media and be aware that everyone is now watching, because of the proliferations of cameras. Also too in this age of political correctness, the media is just hoping you will say the wrong thing and run with it. This is what I mean, when I say stay on the subject and speak sensibly.
I repeat, the media is NOT your friend, even though it may give an impression that it is. Never, ever, give a comment “off the cuff” because that is what they will hone in on.
Be upstanding, be diplomatic and as said, keep to the subject and give sensible and authoritive comments. Never criticise a colleague, be loyal to your friends and to those who depend upon you. The media can be there to help you in your career, but also remember they can destroy your career. Too many immature people in this regard have destroyed themselves.
Beware of the media; do not think you can use them to your advantage and that they are on your side. Be careful in what you say to them. By all means appear on the media, but manage your appearances wisely. In time, experience will show you this and until then, be wary. They are not there to deliberately promote your career, even though they may say so or give that impression. They are there to get a story and it means destroying you, they will. Always be wise to them…at times it may be best to refrain from saying anything. Always be polite to them because if they feel you are treating them poorly they have the power to give you bad publicity even though it would be unjustified. They are human beings and they can hold a grudge.
I cannot overly state too much, learn all about the media and their tactics. I can tell you knowing many in the media (and yes there have been some good ones) very few of them have scruples especially when on the scent of a good story. They will manipulate the result they want, even though it is far from the truth, without any conscience. This is human nature and the media is no different.
Remember if you go “live” anything you say cannot be edited. Be extra careful in what you say. On the other hand if it is pre-recorded they can edit it to their advantage, so again be careful in what you say. Never relax your alertness. Speak with confidence and speak with authority. At times it may be necessary to be fully honest and simply say something like, I really know how much about that subject or of those matters. Always be honest, never make up stories, exaggerate or lie, because it will be found out and you will have to answer for it.
When in public always behave like a gentleman; never show off or behave in an unruly manner, because you are on show. People are watching you. Many will be waiting for you to make a mistake and cause harm to your personal reputation or bring your club into dishonour. Remember, we live in political correct times, so never give the media the story they want or would like.
Too many religious leaders, sportsmen, politicians, pop stars and movie stars believe in their own publicity. They come to believe they are mini gods. They are fools. Invariably their puffed-up pride is their downfall. Remember the old proverb – the bigger they are, the bigger they fall.
I have survived all these years, simply because I knew how far I could go and how much I could and should say.
I can only give advice, the future is in your hands, but learn from one who knows.
You may consider that I have repeated myself on occasions. I have done this deliberately so that it will sink it.