As is obvious from the state of journalism today, the reputation of the media is considerably lower now, than in the past. There are a number of reasons for this, that gymnasts and coaches must be aware of, if they are to successfully deal with the media. Good publicity is still just as valuable (or even more valuable) for gyms, gymnasts and coaches, so it is wise to be prepared for media interviews.
Preparation and training for media interviews should be undertaken by any gymnast or coach, who is likely to be interviewed by even the local media. Certainly, any gymnast or coach who has any chance of being interviewed by national media should be trained to do so.
The media, today, is considerably less in the business of information gathering and dispersing, and more in the entertainment business. One of their major definitions of entertainment is conflict and controversy. Simply reporting the facts of the news is no longer enough. Coaches and gymnasts must be trained to impart interesting information during interviews, but to refrain from stirring controversy and conflict. Don’t be negative about other gymnasts, other gymnastics programs, judges, coaches or gymnastic fans. Keep in mind that during the interview you are the ambassador for the sport of gymnastics, your gym, your team and then lastly, yourself. You are expected to leave a positive impression about all of those.
Assume the Camera and Microphone are Always On
The tactics, commonly used by today’s media, are designed to stir and record controversy. For example, it is common practice now for so-called interviewers to always be recording, both before and after “the interview.” While it looks like the cameraman and interviewer are still setting up, chances are, they are already recording, and “anything you say, can and will be held against you.” After the interview, the camera is left on, to record what the coach or gymnast may assume, is off camera responses. Even after the camera is put away, gymnasts and coaches cannot assume the microphone is not still on.
You are Being Judged on Appearance
When you are on TV, you are being judged on mostly on appearance (55%) and voice quality (38%). You are only minimally judged (7%) on the content of what you say. So look your best, be positive and speak clearly and concisely. Don’t use gymnastics terms and jargon that others outside of the sport will not understand. Have one major message that you want to get across and focus the content of what you say on that message.
The Facts and Only the Facts
With the Internet, it is much easier for journalists to fact check anything and everything that is said. You will want to be truthful, deal with the real facts and not speculate, even in response to questions that ask you to do so. Modesty about yourself is an admirable trait. Let others extol your virtues or extol the virtues of others.
Enjoy Your 15 Minutes of Fame
This is your big chance to say what you want about yourself, your gym, your training, your coaches and your gymnastics. Take advantage of it. Have fun and appear relaxed, happy and positive. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Don’t be intimidated by the camera, mike or interviewer. They are there interviewing you, so you must be worthy of it.