In today’s ever-growing media landscape, there are more opportunities than ever to be contacted by media for an interview — and that isn’t something to be afraid of, according to Cal Poly alumni and Emmy award-winning journalists Kevin Riggs and Rick DeBruhl.
The 1977 and ’78 grads have recently published “The Insider’s Guide to Media Training: 99 tips to Survive your Interview in the Digital Age,” a book they wrote with the intention of helping nervous people learn what to expect during an interview with media.
In an interview with Mustang News, they spoke about the book and the process of writing it.
“There sometimes is a misunderstanding about what media training is,” Riggs said. “It’s not about simply delivering your message without answering questions, it’s just the opposite.”
The goal of the book is to help people who may be nervous or apprehensive about speaking with the media learn to be more comfortable and better understand how to deliver their message effectively.
“The idea was to write a book that helps people who are about to do their first, fifth or even their tenth interview, get a little more insight into how to have an effective interview,” DeBruhl said.
The book also aims to give insight into the life of a journalist, so that “interviewees” can better understand what they have to deal with and why they operate the way they do, according to Riggs and DeBruhl.
“The work of a journalist was never easy, and it’s gotten a lot tougher today with the multiple deadlines and the multiple platforms that you have to supply,” Riggs said . “We just want to make sure people understand that.”
Riggs and DeBruhl dedicated the book in part to Jim Hayes, who was the chair of the journalism department when they attended Cal Poly.
“The lessons that we put in this book are really the things that he taught us years ago, we’re just relaying him,” DeBruhl said. “Instead of teaching journalists how to do interviews, we’re teaching people who are about to be interviewed those same lessons that Jim Hayes taught us many decades ago.”
The subtitle of the book, “99 tips to survive your interview in the digital age,” is something Riggs and DeBruhl said they wanted to make sure to emphasize in their writing.
The media landscape has changed, according to DeBruhl.
“Once upon a time, it was just the legacy media of newspapers, radio and television. Now you’ve got podcasts, blogs, YouTube and all kinds of different platforms,” DeBruhl said.
DeBruhl compared the process of writing the book to making pottery.
“As you work on the pot, you throw away some of the clay you don’t need. Once you get down to the final product, you massage it just a little bit more so it all goes together just right,” DeBruhl said.
This is DeBruhl’s second book, but the first time who wrote with another person. Writing with a partner, he said, was a fun experience, and allowed for the book to have a much broader perspective.
According to public relations professor Dr. Dan Eller, media training helps people learn how to deliver their key message and communicate effectively during interviews with media.
Eller said having source materials that you can revisit or refer to when needed is really beneficial, and that aspect is what makes a book like this so important.
Riggs and DeBruhl said they don’t have any concrete plans to write more books, but that they enjoyed the process of writing this one and wouldn’t rule out the idea of writing another one.