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We’re living in an age where there is a 24/7 news cycle. We’re bombarded with online video, everyone is snapping pics with their camera and the next American Idol is waiting to be discovered. Privacy is a thing of the past. Transparency is king – whether you like it or not.

The good news is that speaking the truth has more power than ever. The bad news is that it’s easy to say something you wish you hadn’t – and have it catalogued forever so anyone can access it at any time.

The silver lining is that every media interview is a chance to build your brand. The ugly truth is that it’s also an opportunity to ruin your reputation over night.

Packaging your message while maintaining control over your every media interaction is a necessary and vital art. Here are three tips to keep control of your reputation.

Don’t Be a Slob.
I remember one of my first clients was a high tech expert. We debated whether he needed to be in a suit or could he wear what he was most comfortable in – a sweater. At the time the sweater won out. Today, I’m not so sure we would make that same decision. People sum you up in less than three seconds. Do experts wear sweaters? Maybe. But a suit speaks seriousness. It’s grown up. It’s what men have worn to work since the industrial revolution. It may be a stereotype, but it’s engrained in our national consciousness.

You’ve heard the expression: “Dress makes the man.” While a well-tailored suit isn’t going to make up for an empty brain it goes a long way in gaining instant credibility. Have you ever noticed how well expensive designer clothes fit? Rather than having a closet full of clothes they don’t wear Europeans select a few exclusive clothes that they mix and match in creative ways. When I lived in Paris I was struck by how well-dressed even the students were. The French even have an expression for it: Bien Foutu, which means well-put together. That’s what you want. Clothes that suit the occasion, your body, personality, and profession.

Don’t Chatter Aimlessly.
“Bush and I were published on the same day. And my book was called, I remember Nothing and his could be too,” said screenwriter, playwright and author Nora Ephron recently on the Bill Maher show. Ephron said that she had been warned ahead of time by the producers that she had better get a joke in fast otherwise she would be overshadowed by the quick repartee of Maher with the other guests. Even though she is an experienced media guest, she said she was terrified and planned her joke out word for word. Plan, prepare and practice your sound bites word for word so when you’re under pressure you can perform. Consider yourself warned.

Don’t Sell Shamelessly.
I remember visiting comedian George Carlin’s website while he was still alive and getting a good laugh when I clicked on his store. He said something like…

“Please buy my crap.” I wasn’t offended. That’s Carlin’s style. And I liked that he wasn’t hiding that he had something to sell. You might need to be more subtle. The art of selling is two-fold. You have to feel comfortable doing it in your own way. And you have to integrate it into your patter so it doesn’t stand up and shout “I’m selling you stuff!” in the middle of a conversation. You want the selling to be seamless, worked into a point that your audience is hanging on your every word to hear. That’s the art of creating sound bites that don’t sound like they are selling, but work through intrigue and tease so you naturally and organically want more.

Speak in Sound Bites To Get What You Want
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I want to thank you for what you shared. I commend you for “showing” your own lessons via stories – great examples – and just for the work you do. I felt prompted to let you know that I appreciate what I gained from what I heard…especially…remember to be authentically me and to show through stories. ~ C.C.


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