During the annual Assessment and Selection Program the candidates go through a multitude of training aspects to hone their skills. Media training is a vital part of their integration into the public eye. Members of the team travel to numerous locations greeting the American Public and are required to conduct interviews with radio and television media every weekend.
It is my job to see that each of these candidates are prepared and feel confident and comfortable speaking with these mediums. It begins with the very first day they arrive at the team and are processed for the program. As they process into the unit Sean Capogreco took individual photographs and Mike Battise had them do a brief standup interview telling us a bit about who they are. I gave each of them a list of “Key Messages” that they can study for upcoming interviews and it gives them something to fall back on during interviews with the media. We don’t want to scare them off or intimidate them, but we need to get a baseline on their experience with media interviews to show us where we need to work with each individual. We compile a DVD of each candidate’s interview process to be critiqued and to assist them with areas they are finding difficultly with. Looking at yourself on video is one of the greatest training aids available to teach you about yourself. It shows them if they are rolling their eyes, stuttering, swaying back and forth or adding a lot of uhms and ands.
Later during the week ,we took them outside in front of the team Headquarters facility to conduct a more in-depth screening and have them give us a bit of a biography on themselves. The majority of them seemed to feel a little more at ease, but a few seem to struggle when the camera was turned on. It’s funny how something as small as a camera intimidates them so much more than falling out of an airplane at 120mph.
Last week we hit them with the real live media crews. Linda, Earl and Eric came down from the Pentagon Channel to do interviews with the candidates for an upcoming segment about “New Guys.” So they were put to the test to use the tips, suggestions and skills we armed them with to face the TV. Overall they really did quite well and I was very proud of them.
This week I gave them all pocket media cards with the several Golden Rule’s when dealing with the media, number 1 being, “Everything is ALWAYS on the record!” It also gave them new key messages and the Communications Wheel to remind them how to bridge their answers back to the key messages into their spots. Mike had set up bright lights and we miked them for their first mock sit down television interview. It is a great feeling to see how they are progressing and I’m sure they will almost be pros by time they reach graduation day.