Category Archives: Media Relations

How Do I Know You’re Lying? Your Body Told Me So.

5 Useful Tips for Reading Body Language in a Business Environment

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media at Sharon Merrill

In business, people aren’t always completely honest. I know…stop the presses! As investor relations professionals, we are constantly playing a poker game with Wall Street.  So how do you know if someone is not being completely truthful with you? Read their body language.

Nonverbal communication, or body language, often sends a different message from the spoken word. The way a person shakes hands, gestures while talking, or even crosses their legs, sends subtle but clear signals about the real meaning behind the message. Even a simple touch of the nose may indicate that a person is being untruthful.

Many Wall Street firms have hired body language experts to train analysts and portfolio managers to identify the nonverbal cues that executives give. So it’s beneficial for CEOs and CFOs to recognize these signals, to ensure they aren’t unwittingly conveying the wrong message. Continue reading

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Filed under Interviews, Investor Days, Investor Presentation, Investor Relations, Media Relations, NIRI, Presentation Training, Roadshow Planning

Media Training: Preparing your CEO for a Successful Interview

By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner

I recently spoke at the NIRI Fundamentals of IR Seminar on “Media and Communications,” and the part of the presentation that generated the most discussion was on how to conduct “media training” for CEOs, CFOs and other corporate spokespeople.  Of course, the most difficult part of media training can sometimes be convincing the executive that they need help.  But once you clear that high hurdle, there are three basic steps to help prepare senior management for a successful interview.

1)      Establish key messages.  Without significant interview experience or preparation, your CEO is likely to a) offer rambling responses to questions, b) divulge too much information, and/or c) miss an opportunity to convey the messages you want to get across to customers, investors, employees or other important stakeholder audiences.  Prior to the interview, create three to five key messages and supporting proof points that you want to make sure appear in the story.  When you are developing key messages, think about the audience for the particular interview and the points that you want to convey to that specific stakeholder group.  Look at it this way:  if you were writing the article for the reporter, what messages would you include?  Those are the messages that management should use in the answers to the reporter’s questions whenever possible. Politicians often do this very well.  For example, earlier this year British Labour leader Ed Miliband famously repeated his position on strikes taking place in the UK in several successive questions during a BBC interview.   Continue reading


Filed under Media Relations

The Firing of Terry Francona: Lessons in Crisis Communications

By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner

The firing of Red Sox manager Terry Francona offers a few valuable lessons in crisis communications, especially those relating to the unexpected departure of an executive.  For those of you outside of Red Sox Nation, let me offer a little background: the only living manager of Boston’s professional baseball team to win a world series (twice!) is now unemployed after missing the playoffs following a disastrous September collapse.  To be technical, Francona wasn’t fired; the team declined to pick up the option on his 2012 contract.  While the debate over letting Francona go is an ideal subject for a sports-focused blog, the way the decision was communicated offers two valuable lessons to anyone in crisis communications. 

1)      Take a Deep Breath:  When a decision is made suddenly to release a senior executive, care should be taken to think through the communications timeline.  The Red Sox put Francona in front of the microphones the day after the final game of the season for no reason other than to discuss the final calamitous loss.  If ownership had even an inkling that the team would be sending Francona on his way, why put him in front of reporters to awkwardly answer questions about his future?  To make matters worse, the very next day Francona held a press conference to announce his departure, which was then followed by another media gathering by the Sox brass to discuss the action.  Why two additional separate press conferences?  The Sox would have been better served to have one well rehearsed press conference (including Francona and the Sox higher-ups) to address the disastrous end of the season and announce that the time was right for a managerial change.  In any crisis situation, take a deep breath, think a few steps ahead and plan all messaging and timing of external communications accordingly. Continue reading


Filed under Crisis Communications, Media Relations

Preparing for the Media: A Checklist for a Positive Interview

In our media relations work at Sharon Merrill Associates  (, we spend considerable time training senior management on dealing with the media.  To be sure, not all interviews are investigative reporters looking to break the next big scandal.  Of course, reporters also are not being paid to write a glowing advertorial about your company either. 

Treat every media interview request as an opportunity, not as a threat, and you will see increased positive coverage of your company.  Not all of your coverage will be 100% positive, and there may be occasions where the facts in a story are not completely precise.  But increased media coverage overall can have tremendous benefits to your sales, marketing, recruiting, investor relations and other critical corporate functions. 

Still nervous about speaking to that reporter who called you out of the blue?  Here is a checklist to make sure that you make the most of your media opportunities: Continue reading


Filed under Crisis Communications, Media Relations