Many of us jump at the chance to be interviewed on live TV to express our opinions and share our knowledge about the Second Amendment, our firearms training business or our participation in the outdoor sports. Unfortunately, its not that simple.
In the gun owning community in particular to include hunters, this sounds innocent enough unless you realize that the reason the media is talking to you is ultimately part of some conflict like a mass murder or new gun prohibition. Unless you are prepared for it, you will easily be used, abused, and discarded for your fifteen minutes of fame. They have the power of the post production edit, the element of surprise and bright lights to get you off your game.
One of the things I will be doing as a part of Blanchard Media is training our clients how to parry, block and punch through their next on air appearance with the skill of a mixed martial artist. You must be able to speak your message when the lights come on.
I was trained both by the National Rifle Association and the School of Hard Knocks for which I have a PhD. During the nineties, the NRA used me to speak to legislators, senators and influencers across the country to change the racist gun laws prohibiting the right to carry in several states. We were successful. It started a trend that now is celebrated by many states. I spent time with the staff which included a publicist and online media host and a lobbyist learning the art of not making an ass of yourself.
Each reporter and journalist is unique. Not all are out to get you. But there are different tactics to get you to say things that you will regret later. What seems like an innocent question often leads you to say something dumb. Some questions that when asked only have a wrong answer. For example:
“Do you still beat your wife?”
No matter how you answer, the follow up question can make you seem like a monster.
No, when did you stop?
In the outdoor sports world and especially the firearms community, the media can use your arrogance, innocence or naivete to put you against your clients, customers, club members and friends.
In this video by CNN, I was driven by limo to the scene of the Navy Yard shooting for this interview. It was the first time I got such treatment. It was during a difficult time. It was at a time when the conversation could have been and would have been used as a sound bite for years for people against guns and freedom. If you listen closely I didn’t really answer any of the questions. I used the opportunity to show support for our military. I used the opportunity to show compassion, etc.
I actually was scolded by a pastor afterwards because he thought I was taking credit for “his” church, and then wasn’t supporting gun prohibition. I will never support gun prohibition. I got several calls from vets however thanking me for what I did say and they heard.
Your message is important. Your brand is important. When you get the opportunity to present it, you have to be ready for what comes. You rarely get a second chance for a good impression. Your sponsors are in the business of making money. If you say the wrong thing you lose that chance to be funded. If you are in the gun community, you are going into the conversation in defense whether you know it or not. If you flub, you won’t be asked to the dance again with your peers. But it is all doable.
If you are interested in this training, contact me. It will be a staple for all clients of BMG to come.