Media training

Commonwealth Games: a masterclass in communication

I’ve often used this blog to highlight bad practice in interviews so I thought it might be worth highlighting some people who’ve done incredibly well.

Put it another way: I’ve been watching the Commonwealth Games and been incredibly encouraged by how the competitors treat each other. This seems to be a common feature among modern sportspeople but the Games have highlighted a few interesting examples.

For example, I was watching the diving yesterday. I know nothing about diving other than I once stood behind Tom Daley in a fast food place at King’s Cross Station which doesn’t make me much of an expert, but the skills and athleticism on display was awesome.

In the 10m synchronised event yesterday, British diver Matty Lee won the bronze. The BBC pulled him over and interviewed him and he was fine, speaking respectfully about the other participants and ensuring everyone knew he was happy with his bronze and that he was just glad to be in the others’ company. So far so routine – then the winner, Cassiel Rousseau, happened to be passing so the BBC pulled him into the interview and asked him about how he felt.

So your media interviewer suddenly loses interest

There were two interesting points from my point of view as someone in communications.

First, no serious competitor in the history of the universe has ever enjoyed coming third. It’s not why people compete and when they’re asked immediately afterwards how they feel, many people such as tennis players or footballers can be pretty grumpy. I don’t criticise that just after they’ve been focused on the win but I do feel Lee was incredibly gracious and positive given his circumstances.

Second, basically the interviewer decided they’d found someone more interesting and pulled them in – with Lee still standing there dripping. He had to listen and nod graciously as Rousseau celebrated the fact that he’d pulled off more or less the perfect dive (and he’d done so, there’s no question that the right person won). Lee continued, nodding and congratulating him.; Rousseau acknowledged Lee, of course.

These were very young people just after the battle of their lives so far, and one will have been bitterly disappointed. They still managed to conduct themselves perfectly and professionally. Maybe next time you see a businessperson, possibly someone from your own team, growing impatient with a journalist, next time you see a politician accusing the press of being “deliberately misleading” because the point wasn’t made clearly in the first place, you might reflect that some very young and inexperienced (in life at least) people in Birmingham have given a masterclass on how to cope over the weekend.

Do you or (if you’re in PR) your clients need help with your media interviews? My team and I can help – drop my assistant Lindsay a line,, and she’ll set us up an initial chat.

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We work with you to instil a calm, cool confidence with the media. We want you to leave the room equipped with tools and techniques to ensure your points are understood by journalists and other media professionals and made in such a way that they'll report them accurately