The course starts with us letting you talk about any previous experience you have had with the media. This gives you the opportunity to share with Alan and Andy where you achieved good coverage or alternatively to have a bit of a rant about the times when your story was dropped or came out wrong. Alan will give good advice on how to control things better from your point of view.
This leads on to Alan explaining how news desks in print and broadcast operate and then giving advice about preparing your key messages.
Before the interviews, Alan likes you to take part in a quick game of ‘Just a Minute’ where he asks those on the course to choose a subject of their own and talk enthusiastically for ‘just a minute’. It can be a hobby or a sport you take part in, or even the favourite part of your job! The idea of the game is to get people relaxed and talking fluently which is ideal preparation for the interviews which are coming up!
The scenarios used during the course will have been discussed in advance with those responsible for staging the course.
Based on the first scenario we will conduct a face-to-face TV interview – of about 2 minutes - with every participant. What we are looking for is good preparation and confident delivery. We want you to have your key messages ready and try to get them across.
After the interviews are completed we will all watch them back together encouraging the participants to comment on their own performance and their peer group while Alan will be ready with advice on avoiding jargon or forms of speech that can prevent your key messages coming over.
The second interview is slightly longer and tends to be a little more challenging. These are done ‘down the line’ with Alan and the interviewee separated by a screen or similar. This helps to prepare participants for what is a very widely-used format in TV news.
What we are looking for here is to build on what was learned in the first session. We will be expecting participants to speak in a very clear fashion using phrases which put across a confident and positive message.
If Alan tries to press in a ‘political or controversial’ way we hope the participant will try to deflect such questions by repeating key messages. Once again we will view and discuss the interviews one-by-one with further coaching to improve performance.
At this point Andy and Alan say goodbye to the participants but we then offer the option of an unannounced and surprise doorstep interview. These work well and are exactly what could happen if a director or manager arrives at work and is ‘ambushed’ by a TV crew and challenged over why the bank’s security allowed a robbery, why the factory wrongly discharged waste into the environment, why an infection was allowed to spread in the hospital.
After the course we send a DVD of the interviews to every participant along with a written report card with constructive feedback on how you dealt with questions, and advice on appearance and body language.
Broadcast quality equipment to create TV and radio-style interviews (including ‘down the line’). Monitor for playback of participants’ interviews. DVD supplied to each participant.
Alan has been running his own media consultancy Alan Mackay Media since 2007,when he left BBC Scotland after over 25 years working in front of the camera. During that time as one of the BBC’s most highly respected reporters he interviewed many thousands of people at home and abroad. His interviewees were from every walk of life imaginable. He conducted sit-down interviews with Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, First Ministers, Foreign Presidents, Captains of Industry, Leaders of Professional Bodies, Show Business names, Sporting Heroes and many more. Alan brings that wealth of experience into his role of media trainer.
Andy Halley is a Lighting Cameraman with a degree of international experience in the broadcast and corporate sectors of the television world that is highly unusual in Scotland. He has shot programmes and interviews for every news network in the UK while he has also directed and shot documentaries in his own right. Many of the testimonials about Andy’s work written by producers and directors refer to his talents for putting those in front of the cameras at ease during filming, all of which contributes to his abilities as a media trainer.