Minky media training

11 01 2015

Screenshot 2015-01-11 16.53.18I spent Tuesday last week on a day of media training organized by the Canada Mink Breeders, and run by the excellent Jeff Ansell and team. Their focus was the most low-brow, sensationalist type of journalism, and the day truly vindicated my own personal media rules: being choosy about who I talk to, and never giving instant answers – always asking for at very least 30 minutes of  prep. time (which I don’t admit is that, of course).

But if these rules don’t protect me as well as I’d like, then the day gave some very useful tips. Physically, we all got reminded to breathe (I’m a breath-holder under pressure, and apparently that’s typical); to speak slowly so that our mouths don’t run ahead of our brains; to use hand gestures (which help shed anxiety, and make your voice more modulated and interesting); and I specifically got told to look at the ground when I think, not up and sideways into the air like Joan of Arc seeing visions (definitely not the effect I’m after!).

And then in terms of what to say, “you’re only as good as your worst quote”, we were warned, so what to do if asked an appalling question (“This is a mink holocaust, isn’t it?”), and, worse, asked it again and again by someone determined to fluster you into saying something stupid?  One useful rule is to never repeat an emotive clause, not even to refute it — or “’It’s not a mink holocaust’ denied the defensive Mason” could be the resulting quote (but at the same time you do have to answer something approximating the question, or you’ll look like a politician). It’s also good to ask “Excuse me??” or “Can you unpack that for me?” if the question is bonkers; while to shake off relentless repetition, it’s best to actively wrap things up yourself, with a phrase like “Well I’ve dealt with that already, but let’s have one last go before moving on”.

Overall, a totally exhausting but fun and useful day.