As the dates for the RDHMW get closer, I start thinking about all I have learned and how I have changed since that first one two years ago. I remember Mary Phelps talking about the media and how to present yourself in today’s mass media global image world. I took to heart all she said about things like what to post, what to say and not to online. But also, I remember her having us do ‘practice’ interviews. I was thrilled to think about maybe someday giving one. I was awed that anyone would want to listen to what I had to say. The first interview I thought I might have to give at FOC that next spring, I sat up the night before, writing out and practicing answers to possible questions; just as she suggested. Even this year at NAYRC I wrote the names of everyone to thank on my hand so I wouldn’t forget. Unfortunately, as you know that wasn’t a great idea because my palm sweated in the victory lap and all of that got smudged!
So looking back on all of the mess ups, success and changes in my interaction with the media I have learned a few things. First, the things you think are interesting or important might not be what journalists think are! Don’t get discouraged when that great line you thought was a perfect quote is never heard again; but that silly thing you said in jest gets printed in bold! As a junior I wanted to spend time letting the people in the media learn about what kind of a person I am. I wanted them to see me as my outgoing and light-hearted self. I wanted to thank all the people who helped me. I thought each time might be the last time I had to say thanks. Everyone always wants to thank their sponsors and support team. That gets kind of boring to the media though and I see in most interviews that isn’t really a focus. But I can imagine from the other side it gets hard to write unique and interesting articles. I know from doing this blog that just coming up with one topic a week is sometimes a monumental task. Even with so few actual pieces I still have repeated myself! So let’s keep in mind that journalists have a job. They may love horses and our sport but they are paid to write articles to grab attention, to interest readers and followers. So if we are prepared, have interesting and new things to add, it helps them too!
In the last year Jeremy has scolded me more than a few times that I need to focus my interview responses to be more professional; to deliver my message to the media. I think what he means is that now I have a goal or a path in dressage and I have to get out what I am doing, and what I need. For example, I am looking for horses! As Sjapoer will be 15 in February I will have to get a younger, new horse soon to look forward past the next two years. I also have three more years of eligibility at Young Riders and would love to highlight American Bred and trained horses. I want to ride for a US breeder the next three years at NAYRC. I need to get those statements out into the media. So as we get more adult and professional we have to begin to answer questions to get out the information we want. This is really hard. It gave me some awkward moments this year as I have tried to transition my open, light hearted answers to career industry forward thinking answers.
I like doing interviews where I can write out my full response and send them back to journalists. This I think has always givenreally in depth information. Yet in person interviews are fun and more exciting. They often lead to me saying something silly though; as my natural lightness comes out more in person. Video streaming and radio interviews are by FAR the scariest. You can’t take anything back and they aren’t edited. You also get to hear your own voice back later and I think no one ever likes how they sound. I think I giggle way too much. I am going to have to work on that.
So what is my point? Like anything else media presentations, developing your online and in person image takes time and practice. Think about what you want to say, write it out, practice your responses. Have your friends and family ask you practice questions. Trust me it will be worth it!