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Are You Prepared for 21st-Century Interviews?

By PJ Wade


Chances are that, if media consider you interview-worthy, you possess a decade or two of experience and knowledge that they believe is valuable. Therefore, the question is not "Do you know enough to answer questions?," but "Can you make your point with clear, fresh 21st-Century relevance?"

Each year, there are more issues, more technology advances, more client choices, more omissions, more controversial views...How do you keep ahead of the pack? Updating expertise involves re-examining everything in new and continually-changing contexts. Merely adding references to the latest technology like Twitter or iPad is not enough.

How do you build depth and relevance in marketing and promoting?

Unknowing, that is, letting go of out-dated techniques and ideas, is just as important today as acquiring new information and skills. Continually-changing technology has made continuing education even more crucial in business and in life. Both take place at the speed of digital change, so quick thinking, creative strategizing and analytic strengths are essential. These skills, and related core professional knowledge, must be regularly refreshed and upgraded to enable assimilation of change into client services and results, as well as into marketing and communication.

Too often, the "at your fingertips" capacity of the internet and mobile computing, make continuing education programs seem easy to ignore. Doesn't a "Google" or two make anybody into an instant expert? Isn't reading the bulletins and newsletters that automatically appear in your inbox enough effort to keep you up-to-date?

News items, academic principles and theoretical information must be transformed into knowledge and skill to represent useful education. Yet there are those who consider continuing education as an interruption, as a tedious use of their precious time. Instead of analyzing their skills and knowledge deficiencies to create an effective re-education program, they merely seek out any program that fits into their schedule. Some of these "important" people, sit through a education session checking messages on their iPhone or Blackberry. These are not the bright, involved, committed professionals that do well in media interviews.

Surveys reveal that the majority of professionals in many industries have concerns about the level of professionalism with which standards and practices are applied in their field. This concern stems from beliefs that the level of professional knowledge and expertise within their industry is slipping below acceptable levels. Financial and related industries charged with causing the economic downturn have also earned regulatory and public criticism.

Here are two tips for advancement from What's Your Point?

  • If you present yourself as an expert in your field, ensure that you genuinely epitomize the leading edge. Disparaging colleagues or your industry to promote yourself or your organization during a media interview may backfire. At best, you'll be quoted in this dangerous context, which may not enhance your credibility with colleagues or clients, or, the journalist or broadcaster will decide not to use your interview or call you again. At worst, you may find yourself at the centre of controversy, real or contrived.
  • Engaging through social media does not mean you understand how to effectively communicate your message.
    If your thinking is unconsciously-grounded in stereotypes, biases and misunderstandings from the last two centuries, how can you consciously solve 21st-Century problems? For instance, if your out-dated views on "too young" or "too old" dictate how you deliver services or advise clients, how relevant are your views? If you avoid using technology to communicate or apply old-fashioned thinking to social networking, are you really delivering 21st-Century messages? Social media like Facebook and Twitter facilitate communication because they combine open, easy access with genuine interest in exchanging ideas, information and almost everything else. Self-serving intentions and deliberate agendas, which are common in marketing and promotion, seem out of place in most social networking situations for many reasons. If you cannot state openly what you want and why, maybe you're electronically in the wrong place.
  • In the 20th-Century, communication efforts concentrated on getting your name in print in any context. In this century, marketing and public relation practices are tied to keeping your name off the internet in any but the best contexts.

    2010 PJ Wade, The Catalyst. Excerpt from What's Your Point?: Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark & Stick! ( Reprinted with permission. All reprint rights reserved.

    PJ Wade is "THE CATALYST"-Futurist, Strategist, Cross Generation Expert, Speaker and Media Commentator-who shares practical, real-life insights on embracing Forward Thinking-a talent PJ regularly demonstrates. Visit PJ's website