Image courtesy of flickr user mkismkismk

The power of positive messaging

Being a fat flubberwubber I’ve never been good at balls games, particularly squash and tennis. I’m always the player puffing sweatily up and down, frantically trying to field balls sent every which way by my smug opponent nonchalantly controlling the game from the centre of the court.  And of course I always lose.

I recently had a media training client who had prepared for a controversial issue by predicting every possible negative question and coming up with lines-to-take on each. Someone had done a really thorough job.  The list of Qs and As ran to several pages. And of course it was quite unmanageable

Any spokesperson in a combative live interview would struggle to remember all those messages and responses. What’s more, concentrating on the negatives would put them in a defensive frame of mind. Not ideal.

Working with the client, I was able to identify just half a dozen positive messages that they wanted to put across.  Not only did this put the spokes into a more proactive mind-set, it turned out in simulated interviews that using only the short list of positive messages we’d prepared  the spokes could happily deflect and turn the most negative of questions.

As I always say to my media training clients, take control.  It’s your interview – but only if you chose to make it so.


For more on message management check out my book Handling Media Interviews on Kindle.

If you’d like to commission a bespoke media training course, contact the CIPR training team on 020 7631 6900 or by email at

Image courtesy of flickr user mkismkismk

John Whyte-Venables

John Whyte-Venables delivers the CIPR's 'Creating Video Content for the Web' and 'Making Movies with iPhones and iPads' courses. He is also a media trainer with 30 years' experience. A former BBC multimedia journalist and Press Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, he is the author of 'What is News?' and 'Handling Media Interviews'.

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