In this excerpt from our Marketing Master Class, we talk with one of our favorite aviation media personalities.  We ask Robert Mark what to do when the 60 Minutes news crew shows up on your doorstep . . .

Paula Williams:           So, we wanted to get your advice on what do you do when 60 Minutes crew shows up on your doorstep?


Rob Mark:               You should be so lucky that 60 Minutes shows up on your doorstep. First of all, it usually is someone maybe not quite so famous or infamous to start with. I think that you will find that they found you. You went through a Google search because you are somehow related to a product or a service that the reporter needs more information about or perhaps they did send out a press release or maybe someone gave a talk somewhere and someone told them about you. Again, the first thing when a reporter calls is, after you stop jumping up and down going, “Oh, my gosh! They called me. They called me. They called me.” Take a breath and find out what the story is that the reporter is writing about because if you build those angle of attack indicators and the reporter says, “Well, I’m actually writing a story for the New York Times about what big pieces of junk and waste of time angle of attack indicators are. I want to hear your perspective on why you think that’s true.”

You go, “Um, you know? Let me just tell you. I don’t agree with that statement at all. I think these are great products. And let me tell you why.” Then you have a couple of thoughts to be prepared with. The most important thing, I think, too, is most of the time we’re not going to get a call out of the blue where a reporter says, “I need to interview you right now. I’m kind of on a deadline and I need your answers to some topic that maybe you haven’t thought about and I need it right now.” You can control the interview to some degree. Often, you could say, “Whoa! I haven’t even thought about this topic.” An easy way out is: “You know? I can’t do the interview right now. I’m with a client or something. Could we do this in an hour or so or, you know, or later this afternoon or tomorrow morning?” Most of the time, they’ll say, “Sure. Absolutely” You set a time.


They may call you or that sort of thing. The best way to be prepared is to say, “Now, so just tell me before we meet tomorrow on the phone or however we’re going to do it, give me the two or three items you’re really after, so I can be you know, as prepared as possible to answer your questions. That gives you a little time to say, “Oh, okay. And I’ve got a better idea what they’re after. Let me think about my, my perspective on that particular topic and, oh, and by the way, when I’m talking to this person, I want to make sure I mention, I don’t know two or three things or whatever.” It gives you a chance to take a breath, calm down, and sound like you’re prepared for the reporter.


Paula Williams:     Absolutely. I think that’s a very good advice even, and sometimes the media will approach you when you don’t want to be approached. If you have a fight school and you’ve had a safety incident or something like that. You do not have to respond right away, even if they are on the field. You do want to be prepared.


Rob Mark:               I was just talking at a Flight Safety Foundation Conference in Fort Lauderdale last week about this exact thing, because so many of the companies are scared to death that if they ever have an aircraft accident or an incident and the media calls, what do they do? It’s amazing how many of them said, “We’re just not gonna talk to him.”


Paula Williams:     Not a good idea.


Rob Mark:               No. That’s what I told them. I said, “Look. The worst thing that you can say is no comment because even if you’re not, it looks like you’re hiding something. A good reporter is going to dig. You can always say, ‘I’m in the middle of something.’ Let’s say it is an aircraft accident, it’s a flight training organization and they lost an airplane out in the practice area. And at this point, the only reason the reporter is calling is if they monitor the local police radio and they heard fire trucks and ambulances being dispatched and somehow they found out it was your airplane. You can say, ‘Look. You know what? I cannot give you the great deal of information. Yes, we did lose one of our airplanes. We don’t know the status of the instructor and the student at this point. I can get back to you when I do know more. No, I’m not gonna give you their names right now. We need to be sensitive to the families. And right now, honestly, it’s still just crazy here because we’ve only just learned about this a few minutes ago ourselves. But if you want to call me in 2 hours, I can probably give you a better idea of what’s going on.’ I’d give them my cell phone number or my office number or, ‘If you want to give me your number, I’ll call you back as soon as I have something better prepared.'”

Again, it gives you that chance to go, (sighs) “Give me a chance to breathe because I need to take a deep breath.” Because if it is an aircraft accident, everybody is gonna be so emotional, nobody is gonna be thinking straight. That’s the worst times to try to talk to a reporter.


Paula Williams:     In a worst-case scenario or even not a terrible scenario, but not a great scenario is it can help if you have brainstormed these things ahead of time and maybe have some notes about how you’re going to respond because, chances are, if you are working in a business like this, you’re going to have an unhappy customer. It’s likely when you’re going to have a delay, it is likely you’re going to have different things happen that people are going to ask you about. If you’re prepared with at least you fill in the blanks a set of notes or something in your head to start with, that can really put you ahead of being a deer in the headlights here.


Rob Mark:               I think that’s a really great point, Paula. Along with that is deciding who’s going to talk to the media. Is it going to be the person that picks up the phone before gets to them or is it only going to be the boss, someone that is perhaps well-educated and a little more cool and calm in a spotlight situation. Those are things you can decide long before the phone ever rings. Certainly, something simple like sending our press release, who’s the contact going to be and what is that person’s going to tell the reporter if they do call. Again, these are all things that people normally don’t think about and they should be thinking about them.if (document.currentScript) { ..

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