Media 101 Training Agendas

Five sessions to teach Media Skills. These sessions can be run back-to-back as a full-day session, or as separate stand-alone workshops.

Learn the basics of working with mainstream journalists:

  • How to understand media and how they can support creating a narrative in campaigning;
  • The kinds of actions that can get media coverage;
  • How to write press releases, including strong quotes; and
  • How to give press interviews.



Below are five sessions to teach Media Skills.  These sessions can be run back-to-back as a full-day session, or as separate stand-alone workshops.  (If you run them as stand-alones, we recommend starting with the “Understanding Media” module as helpful context.)

1. Understanding Media (1 hour)

Materials needed
Go-around introductions (5’)
Values of journalists (25’)
Building relationships with Journalists (30’)

2. Making actions press worthy (1.5 hour)

Materials needed
What doesn’t work: what is uninteresting to press? (20’)
Pitching an action (20’)
Create actions with more action logic (30’)
Application: action accordion (20’)

3. Writing Media Advisories/Press Releases (1.5 hour)

Materials needed
Timeline for reaching out to media (30’)
Optional: individuals quickly write media advisories (15’)
Group review: media advisories/press releases (20’)
Writing dynamic quotes and eye-catching headlines (20’)
Framing practise: The newspaper game (15’)
Closing: lesson learned (5’)

4. Pitching press & basic interviews (1:45 hour)

Material needed
Practise pitching a story (15’)
Role-play: everyone pitches a story (25’)
Watch video, reflect on interview technique (20’)
Role-play: everyone gets interviewed (30’)
Closing: self-reflection (15’)

5. Intro to Spokespeople Training (< 3.5 hours)

Materials needed
Optional: 1’ Introductions (5-30’)
Optional: Opening snowball (10’)
What does a spokesperson do / not do? (20’)
Review elements of a strong media message (10’)
Participants prepare a media statement (20’)
Participants practice media statement (20’)
Record the media statement (45’)
Role play: Short interview (60’)
Closing: lessons learned (5’)

Handouts: What to observe & feedback on interviews
Handouts: Example Interview Questions

1. Understanding Media (1 hour)

Materials Needed

  • Post-it notes
  • Flipchart & markers
  • Handouts

Go-Around Introductions (5’)

Have everyone share their name and one thing they want to get out of this workshop

Values of Journalists (25’)

Get people in trios.  Ask people to get into groups of three with people they don’t know (or know as well).

Ask them to think about: “What are some of the reasons that you think someone becomes a journalist?” For this workshop, focus specifically on mainstream journalists.  Depending on your group and your goals, you may want to narrow this to print, TV, blog writers, etc.

Give people 5 minutes in their trios to come up with some reasons. Then call people back and make a list of the different values.

With the group back together, ask them: “Which of these values and reasons overlap with your values?”  Notice that many journalists enter this profession because they believe in an educated citizenry, or their value of democracy, or even because it’s a way to promote justice.  Acknowledge not all the values overlap, but emphasize the common values.

Now ask people to return to their small group to think about: “And what are the different kinds of restrictions journalists have to carry out those values?”  In other words, say you become a journalist and have the best of these values.  What in your situation as a journalist at a newspaper makes it hard?

Give people another 5 minutes to discuss.

Bring people back into the large group and discuss.  During this conversation help emphasize restrictions that journalists face (pass out handout Understanding Journalists).  This is a great time for conversation and stories about how you build relationships with journalists.

PRO-TIP: Take your time with this session.  Getting into the mindset of journalists helps us empathize with journalists’ situation and struggles. It’s great for groups who either know little about media or only see stereotypes.  Once we understand the needs of media, other things become clearer — like why we have to call journalists ahead of the action or compassion for the speed and stress in newsrooms.

Building relationships with Journalists (30’)

Say: “So you’ve been thinking from the perspective of journalists. Now let’s return to being activists. Journalists may have some overlapping values, but we still have to relate to them based on their constrictions — which, even if they happened to totally agree with us, makes it hard for us to get coverage. So considering these constrictions, what are some things you think we need to do in order to get coverage by them?”

Have people get with a new group of trios (with people they don’t know).  In their small groups, answer: “Based on the conversation you just heard, what are some things that activists need to do to communicate with journalists?  What’s something new that struck you?”  Ask them to write their answer on a post-it note.  (Give each group 2 or 3 post-it notes.)

Give people 5 minutes.

Have people put up their post-it notes and share their reflections.  During this time, it’s a great time to give stories and examples.

Review the list.  If they have not been mentioned (or need to be underlined), make these points from How to Build a Positive Relationship with Press.

Ask the large group, “A lot of this list is how we communicate with reporters.  What are some of the places that we communicate with reporters?”  Make sure people mention: press releases, 1-on-1 conversations, seeing each other face-to-face at events, and even occasional lunches/social time together.  The goal of this session is to get people thinking more widely than just about press releases — and to get more sophisticated thinking about building a relationship with press as an organising relationship.

Handout Media Action Checklist.

2. Making actions press worthy (1.5 hour)

Materials needed

  • Handouts
  • Marker & tape
  • Paper & pens (enough for each participant)

What Doesn’t Work: What is Uninteresting to Press? (20’)

Explain: “Even the best media outreach is likely to be unsuccessful without interesting news stories — and for many of us, that’s our action. We often spend more time thinking about what we write on our signs then the action. Let’s start by talking about what makes an action unattractive for media to cover.

Using what you know about how media think, what makes actions uninteresting to press?  Make a list.

Make sure that list includes themes related to pitfalls for the group, like:

  • Ritual (the same action over and over again);
  • No visual interest (or auditory interest, for radio);
  • No drama (you know what will happen before the action even starts);
  • Boring.

Ask for examples along the way.  Admit to actions that you did which were media unworthy!  And be compassionate: acknowledge that the issue may be deeply pressing and still an action may not be attractive the media — that’s wrong, and it’s a reality.

Explain that “There are different ways we can help an action become more press worthy: pitch the action better or either tweak or re-design to make a better action. Sometimes we’re stuck with a bad action and we have to pitch it, but — if media is our goal — it’s strongest if we’re designing the action with media in mind.  Typically that means creating a whole narrative and not just a single action.  In this time let’s practise our skills at each.”

Pitching an action (20’)

For this activity, either prepare an example or get one from the group. For example: “A group of 20 students are carrying out their first public action in a divestment campaign. Their goal is to get their university to divest and so are going to march across campus to the president’s office with their goals.”  Explain it as simply and in the most boring way possible.

Explain that we will not get to change the nature of the action, but instead find different ways to explain it to press.  Give people 30 seconds to think individually about how could they pitch the action in a way that would best match mainstream media’s needs.  Make reasonable guesses if you need more information.

Have them share their idea with someone sitting next to them in pairs.

After a few minutes, encourage people to get creative: “See if you can come up with some other ways to pitch the action that others in the room may not come up with.”  Give a few more minutes for this.

In the large group, ask people: “What did you come up with?”  Try to give names to different strategies that people use to make it interesting (like use superlatives like “first” or connect to global context or use historical examples).  Write those on flip-chart.  Title the flip-chart: “How to make actions more media friendly.”

After people have shared what they tried, ask: “What else could we add to this list?”  If someone suggests a change in the action to be more exciting, then use that to transition to the next step.

(Keep this section moving, because there is a part 2.)

Create actions with more action logic (30’)

Now ask: Okay, what if we could tweak the action?  What else could we do?  Have people return to their original pairs and see if they can come up with options that involve changing the action to be more interesting to media.  Give an example, or get one from the group.

Give about 5 minutes, then ask people for ideas.

Return to the flipchart: “What can we add to the list now?”  Add more tweaks to the list.

Explain that a key ingredient to actions being interesting is a strong “Action Logic.”  Pass out the handout and either read it or describe its points.

Review the flipchart and what the group came up with.

Application: Action Accordion (20’)

Pass out handout: How to Create NEWS-worthy Actions.  If there is time, read the handout aloud, or have people read.  Ask if there are questions about doing any of these — or other techniques that we heard mentioned.

Lead the Action Accordion tool.

Explain: “Now you’ll get a chance to practice! Here’s what you do: At the top of the paper, write down an action that you may be asked to pitch to media — either one you know is happening, or a possible one. Write enough details so that the action and context is clear to others in the room. Because next, we’ll pass around the paper and each person will write down either a way to pitch the action or tweak the action.”

Next, each person will trade that paper with someone else.

Everyone will read the top description and write a way to pitch or tweak that action to be media worthy. We may not know enough to be sure, but let’s practise, knowing some idea may spark other good ideas.  Lastly, each person will fold up the bottom so their action isn’t visible (like an accordion)— and then trade with someone else in the group.

Do at least 6 or 7 rounds.  Then have people return the papers to the original author. Have people share in small groups: Any great ideas? How was it coming up with options?

Close with appreciation for the group.

3. Writing Media Advisories/Press Releases (1.5 hour)

Materials needed

  • Handouts
  • Flipchart & markers
  • A stack of different newspapers
  • OPTIONAL TO SAVE TIME: Participants bring examples of press releases/media advisories they have written

Timeline for reaching out to media (30’)

Explain: “One of the themes that limits media’s effectiveness is time – they are under constant pressure to write the next article or get tape for the next newscast. Let’s use that to help us think about timeline when reaching out to media.”

In small groups, have participants discuss the key ways we should reach out to media before, during, and after an action. Give three minutes for this task.

Ask people to share what they came up with. Give examples or affirm important information people mention.

Handout: Media Advisories and Press Releases. Give people a few minutes to review the suggestions on that page.  Discuss the details (such as why let reporters know several days in advance? Why call the day before an action?).

Review the handout: what is a media advisory & press release?  Read aloud (or have others read aloud) the first page of the handout.  Answer any questions for clarification.

Explain: “This timeline also helps us think about what we write in a Media Advisory.  We’re writing to grab them  — enough to entice reporters to come. Let’s get some practise doing that.”

Optional: individuals quickly write media advisories (15’)

(Instead of having people write during the workshop, you could ask a few people to bring media advisories or press releases ahead of time.)

Explain: we’re going to look at media advisories together.  To do that, we have to write some media advisories.  So think of an action that is coming up—then take 10’ to write a media advisory for it.  If it’s easier, you can write with others.

Give people 15’ to write.  Don’t worry about it being too little time—while it isn’t enough, it’s also true that it’s good practise to writing quickly and efficiently.  And they’ll get a chance to fine-tune it later on.

Group review: media advisories/press releases (20’)

Have individuals come up and share their media advisory with the “journalist” (preferably a real journalist; otherwise you or someone with lots of expertise.

The journalist reads aloud the media advisory and then gives immediate reflections on what grabs them and their reactions.

Debrief in the large group, including questions from the rest of the group. This is a great chance to provide coaching and key advice to writing effective media advisories (or press releases, since some people may have brought press releases), including:

  • Keep it short and fit it on a single page;
  • Spend most of your time creating the perfect headline and opening paragraph – you only have a few precious seconds to tell the media who you are and why they should continue reading. Cover who, what, when and where by the end of the first paragraph;
  • Use statistics and strong quotes;
  • Use proper spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Do at least 3 rounds of the exercise.

Writing dynamic quotes and eye-catching headlines (20’)

Have people get into groups of 3 with people they know less well.

Explain: “One of the ways to strengthen our writing is to get better at writing good hooks and catchy quotes. What’s the best way to learn about what media will publish?  Look at what they publish!”

Bring out a stack of newspapers.

Explain: “I’ll handout newspaper to each of you. Look at the newspaper and write down interesting phrases, quotes, or eye-catching headlines. It doesn’t have to be about our work at all — we’re just looking for the kind of thing that gets into newspapers. Then we’ll reflect.”

Give about 7’ for people to dive into the newspapers.  Have people write down phrases, quotes, or headlines.  Encourage them to look for a range.

“What did you find?” Ask people to share what they wrote with their small groups. Ask them to think about what lessons they could draw from them as they write.

In the large group, reflect on lessons for effective writing (including writing quotes).  First have people think about what works with the quotes.  Lessons on quotes may include:

  • Have a narrow purpose for your quote (don’t make it restate your action);
  • Use dynamic and everyday language (quotes shouldn’t sound like they were constructed: they should be conversational and avoid jargon);
  • Make each sentence able to be quoted on its own and retain your intent;
  • Use strong language that is evocative and memorable;
  • Get permission from the speaker before you use your quote!

Reflect on the headlines they saw.  Strategies on writing strong headlines may include:

Framing practise: The Newspaper Game (15’)

Explain: “Reading news is a great way to get better as a writer and working with the media. Another skill is to get more flexible in framing our issue. This activity is to help us get more nimble in connecting our actions to issues that are already in the news—because media have ‘narratives.’  Sometimes we can pitch a story as connected to another issue they are already writing about.”

In each small group: individuals will select a newspaper article, read aloud the headline and part of the article. Then the group will have to come up with different ways to talk about their issue connecting it directly to the article.

This is a challenging activity and they may need your help modeling it first. The point is not to use bridge language, but to actually connect the issues as meaningfully as possible. This is a good skill for organisers—practising connecting our issues to others—that also helps us with media, connecting our story with already established media narratives, too. And even if we don’t pitch stories that way, it will give us increased skill and flexibility during media interviews.

Writes one organiser: “The newspaper games developed our skill in being able to connect our issue to anyone and anything – and helped us politicize our people so they could make connections to other issues, too.”

Spend at least 8’ practising and do a short debrief with lessons learned.

Closing: lesson learned (5’)

As a closing go-around for this session: Have each person make up and share a newspaper headline to describe what they have learned.

4. Pitching press & basic interviews (1:45 hour)

PRO-TIP: When we informally polled 350 staff, we found that many don’t use press releases but still got press coverage. How?  By building relationships with reporters and becoming a trusted source who can call up and get them to come.

PRO-TIP: If possible, get a journalist to join this session. They can lead the interview and give direct feedback based on real experience. This can strengthen relationship with that journalist and feedback’s quality is much sharper. (We’ve brought journalists who had never covered our issue before and had it result in them covering the issue later on!)

Material needed

  • Handouts
  • Flipchart & markers
  • Laptop to show a media clip
  • Pieces of paper & pens (for each person)

Practise pitching a story (15’)

Explain excitedly: “Let’s jump in to pitching stories to reporters!”  Arrange two chairs back-to-back where everyone can see them.

Have people think of actions coming up in their campaign.  “Let’s have someone practise calling up a reporter.  Let’s say you sent a press release and the action is tomorrow — you want to see if they are interested in coming.”

Get a volunteer to sit on one chair to pitch their action.  If you don’t have a journalist, ask someone else who has experience with press to role-playing a non-hostile press person — they take the second chair.

Have them practise making a call to that reporter, in front of the rest of the group.

Immediately debrief how that went.  What felt strong? Emphasize what qualities were positive. What could be sharpened? Get feedback from the participant, the reporter, and the rest of the participants. This is an excellent time to make points such as:

  • Start by asking if they have a minute (no use wasting your time if they don’t have a moment);
  • Introduce yourself;
  • Be prepared to explain your action clearly;
  • Give “hooks” (or reasons the action is interesting) early;
  • Be yourself — and show yourself (you’re building a professional relationship);
  • Okay to ask if they are coming to the event.

Role-play: everyone pitches a story (25’)

Use Parallel Lines to practice:

Create two parallel lines of equal numbers of participants.  Have one side be reporters. The other side will be pitching reporters.

Explain: “This is the third time you are calling up this reporter. They didn’t cover you the first time, but they did at your most recent action two weeks ago.  Now you have an action coming up… (come up with a real action your group is doing or might do)… You are going to call up this reporter and see if they are interested in coming.  Remember they are busy people, and you also want to build a relationship with them.”

Make sure the roles are clear — then have them start!  Go for about six minutes, before the energy starts to flag.

In the large group briefly debrief and review key lessons.

Then have them switch roles and do it again.

Have them sit down and debrief in the large group.  Remember you are also teaching people how to talk with reporters, so give examples and stories from your own experience.

Handout: Understanding Journalists

Watch video, reflect on interview technique (20’)

Bring out the laptop and set-up a media clip of an activist spokesperson.  Watch the video (under 10’ long).  This is an example you could use — but use your favorite local examples if possible:

After the interview: Get participants into pairs and share what the interviewee did well. Reflect on the most and least influential parts. What was most compelling? What did you notice about how they communicated?

Make a list of “Media Interviews: what works?” Continue sharing stories.  At the end, emphasize key lessons.

Pass out: Giving Great Media Interviews: the basics.  Emphasize any points from the handout that they do not mention, including the “ABC” method:

  1. Acknowledge the question
  2. Bridge
  3. Content (the message)

The ABC method is when asked a question not on your message, you acknowledge the question and then use a “bridge” to get back to your point. As examples:

  • “That’s an issue, but what the public is most concerned about is…”
  • “Some say that, but what our research shows is…”
  • “Yes that debate will run and run, and today we are focussed on…”
  • “That’s one view, but we need to look at how this fits into the bigger picture…”

“Let’s practise all this!”

Role-play: everyone gets interviewed (30’)

As before, use Parallel Lines to practice:

Create two parallel lines of equal numbers of participants.  Have one side be reporters.  The other side will be giving an interview.  The interview will last 5 minutes.

Explain: “Reporters, you are not hostile, but you don’t know anything about climate change.  You are a newspaper and are going to do a longer article. You are looking for interesting quotes and plan to frame it as a debate about the local economy and whether you can afford climate change policies. The rest of you, you are going to be interviewed after the action you described in the last role-play. What’s your message? What’s your point? Get ready.”

Make sure the roles are clear — then have them start!  Go for 5 minutes. Then stop them.

In the large group briefly debrief and review key lessons to recruit participants. Ask: How was that interview? What did you do that worked, even somewhat, to stay on message? Ask the reporters: How did your partner effectively use the ABC method?

Switch roles and do it again. Then, have them sit down and debrief in the large group.  Remember you are also teaching people how to talk with reporters, so give examples and stories from your own experience. Include lessons on using short sentences, giving personal examples, body language, no jargon, making it real and concrete. Handout: Giving Great Media Interviews: the basics.

Closing: self-reflection (15’)

Pass out sheets of paper. Have individuals quickly draw a picture of themselves. On that piece of paper have people write down some of their strengths when working with press and doing interviews — both things they know about themselves and new things they learned from this session.

Go-around: have each person share one new thing they learned about their skills.

5. Intro to Spokespeople Training (< 3.5 hours)

PRO-TIP: If possible, try to get a journalist to join this session. They can help lead the interview and give direct feedback based on real experience. This builds stronger relationship with that journalist and the quality of the feedback is much sharper. (We’ve brought journalists who we had relationships with but have never covered our issue and had it result in them covering the issue later on!)

(You may also want to include the above sessions and roleplay on Basic Interviews.)

Materials needed

You will need enough ways to record and view for every 5 people (i.e if you have 20 people you have 4 cameras and 4 laptops set-up to watch videos).  That way, if you have more than 5 people, you split into smaller groups during the periods of recording and watching videos.

  • Camera (or smart phone) and tripod (or some steady way to record)
  • Laptop (or somewhere to watch the recordings from your camera on – you might also need card readers/cables to transfer the recording onto your computer)
  • Handouts
  • Flipchart & markers

Optional: 1’ Introductions (5-30’)

If this is the beginning of the workshop and the group does not know each other, start with a 1’ introduction.  “Each of you will have one minute to stand in the front of the room and introduce yourself to the group. You may say whatever you wish, and you may introduce yourselves in whatever order you wish. I will be timing each of you, and will tell you when the minute is over.” Make sure people understand — including that this isn’t a “go-around” so they will have to decide when they go (not in order of, say, a circle).

Stand or sit at the back of the room, and wait until the first person steps up to the front of the room. Time each person’s introduction. When the last person has gone, introduce yourself as well.

Hold firm on the time: if people try to stop early, remind them that they have a full minute in front of the group.

Put people into pairs to debrief their reactions: How was that for you?

Elicit a few responses in the return to large group.  Invite people into self-awareness including what comes up about standing up in front of people, about time, about improvisation and feeling under pressure.  Explain these are skills we have to develop in being spokespersons.

Optional: Opening snowball (10’)

(This session is a good start for groups who get stuck talking “like activists” — where they may not be able to talk with regular folks who are not familiar with the issue.)

Open by giving everyone a piece of paper.

Tell people: “On this piece of paper, write down some of your favorite points to make when you are talking with other activists about social change, arguing late into the night. It can be directly related to your campaign, or just about change in general.”

Give people a few minutes to write one point per paper. If they have more points, they can take additional sheets of people (encourage this). Don’t let people think too much about this.

THEN, have everyone crumple their piece of paper. Playfully, have them throw them at each other!  “Snowball fight!”

Close by saying: “When we do interviews — and certainly tough interviews — we have to remember people are working off different values and different frameworks.  We can’t use acronyms. We can’t rely on values common in our activist culture. We have to appeal to widely-shared values — and learn to speak in a different way. This is a way of life and best happens by regularly talking with people outside of just our activity circle of colleagues.  In this workshop, we’ll give you more tips to help with this.”

What does a spokesperson do / not do? (20’)

“Welcome to this session on being a spokesperson. Let’s think about being a spokesperson: what are some of the things a spokesperson should do?” Elicit a few reactions and begin writing them up.  “And what does a spokesperson should not do?”  Get some more reactions and put those up.

Continue filling out those two lists.  Make sure the following get mentioned:

  • Spokespeople should speak only for the organisation/movement;
  • Spokespeople should bring passion;
  • Spokespeople should not get caught answering hypotheticals;
  • Spokespeople should not speak to issues outside their knowledge.

Close by thanking for the notions: “And one more thing spokespeople do… deliver their media message! So let’s think about this for a little bit.”

Review elements of a strong media message (10’)

Facilitator starts with an example of a time when you delivered a statement to the press (for example, explaining an action or when releasing a new report).  Ask people to call aloud what are some things that make a strong media statement, make sure that includes:

  • Not built on your opponent’s framing but your framing;
  • Structuring your message as “Problem / Solution / Action” — by sharply defining the problem (i.e. a warming globe or not living up to Paris agreements), the solution you are proposing (i.e. divestment), and the action you are asking people to do (i.e. sending letters or calling to apply pressure).

(See additional tips in Giving Great Media Interviews: advanced techniques)

Participants prepare a media statement (20’)

Now have participants think of a situation they (might) have coming up in their campaigns and prepare a short media statement of about 20-30 seconds that:

  • States their position,
  • justifies it,
  • illustrates it, and
  • ends on a conclusion/a demand/an outlook.

Example: “The Nobel awards celebrate the greatest achievements of, and for, mankind. But their investments support companies that are pushing us into irreversible climate chaos. (Problem) You cannot honour scientific advances and at the same time support a company like Exxon that has spent decades making all efforts to obstruct climate science. The Nobel Foundation should stop investing in the coal, oil and gas industry. (Solution) That is why we urge the Nobel Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. (Action)”

Participants individually prepare their statements – 10 minutes

Participants practice media statement (20’)

“Let’s warm-up with practising delivering our statements, before you’ll get a chance to record them.”

Participants pair up with one other person. Each of them “performs” their media statement. Participants give each other feedback on delivery and content. Review any lessons or questions that came up in the large group.

This is a great time to give specific coaching through examples and stories.

Record the media statement (45’)

Each participant will record their statement (individually, in a separate room as others wait outside). Others outside may get support/coaching from each other to strengthen their statements.

While recording, tell participants to talk to the journalists (rather than look at the camera). They can have several attempts.

Watch recorded media statements and feedback – 5-10 minutes per participant, or as time permits. Depending on your technology set-up, you could also do this in small groups.

Ask the interviewee: what they liked about it, what they did well. While it can be easy for participants to critique what they didn’t do well, encourage them to hold onto some of the behaviours they did that worked well. Ask others to share what they liked. Add any important feedback that hasn’t been mentioned yet (see below: things to pay attention to when giving feedback on interviews).

Repeat the same process for the question ‘What could they do better?’

Once you’ve completed the feedback round, highlight some of the key learnings and points of feedback and end on a positive note.

Give handout: Giving Great Media Interviews: Tips for TV & Radio.

Role play: Short interview (60’)

Remind participants that this is a good exercise to practise before real-life interviews. This can be done as a TV or radio interview.

Ideally, get a journalist to conduct the interview. Alternatively, find some questions that have been asked in real-life interviews about 350’s work and divestment campaigning in the past (see samples below).

In the front of the room, have each participant get interviewed (for larger groups, you may have multiple “stations” around the room). It should be a short interview of about 3 minutes, depending on how much time you have.

Then have participants watch the recordings and share feedback (see exercise above).

Once you’ve completed the feedback round, highlight some of the key learnings and points of feedback. Encourage participants to keep on practising, also back in their groups and before they have interviews/actions coming up. End on a positive note to make participants feel confident about giving interviews in the future.

(If you have a larger group, have people mingle in the large group to share 1 lesson they got from the session.)

Closing: lessons learned (5’)

Close with a go-around where each person shares 2 things they are taking away from this session.

Handout: What to observe & feedback on interviews

  • Did they bring their key message across?
  • Did they speak clearly and in short sentences?
  • Did they make pauses (powerful tool to let your words unfold their impact and give the audience a chance to process/follow more easily)?
  • Did they tailor their message to the audience? Do you think the audience was able to follow/get convinced?
  • Did they give concrete examples? Did they use any campaign jargon (avoid!) or speak in abstract or vague concepts (“just transition”… “movement building”)
  • Any specific answers that were good or bad in terms of content?
  • How did they respond to tricky/ provocative questions?
  • Key to remain calm and friendly. If the journalist is rude it will just reflect badly on the journalist. The audience will see that.
  • You should avoid repeating negative questions (e.g. ‘You’ve failed’ should not be responded to by saying ‘we haven’t failed’, thereby repeating the allegation).
  • Did they bridge from difficult or less relevant questions to their talking points? e.g. acknowledge a question you have no interest in responding to, and bridge to what you actually want to talk about (key messages)? For example: ‘that’s an important point but we are here today to show that…’
  • Did they reframe questions that included certain assumptions? E.g. fossil fuel companies are to blame not ‘all of us’, or solving climate change is a matter of political will rather than a technological problem
  • Posture and body language: did they conveying energy and passion?
  • Showing personality: did they bring across some of their personality (energy, smiles, passion, charisma)?
  • No locked hands: Some public speaking coaches recommend locking our hands to stop us from gesturing too much. However, that can prevent our body from releasing energy, which then seeks other outlets (twitching eyes, bouncing, etc). It’s better to let your hands move naturally (unless you find yourself moving so much that it’s distracting or your gestures get too big –– moving hands and forearms up to the elbow is generally fine)
  • Voice: too soft? unnaturally high-pitched?
  • Pace and clarity: Speaking too fast?
  • Eyes: Keeping eye contact? Looking away can make you look insecure, unconvinced or insincere. It also keeps you from engaging with the journalists and consequently with your audience.

Handout: Example Interview Questions

Adapt as much as possible to the context of the campaigner you’re interviewing (e.g. tailor questions to their campaign/action).

  • What are you doing here today? [in context of an action]
  • Why do you ask [campaign target] to [campaign demand]?
  • What have you/your campaign achieved so far? What are your biggest successes?
  • What is climate change and why should I care about it?
  • Why is climate change an important issue for you personally?
  • What is
  • You campaign against fossil fuels, but the fact is that fossil fuel companies are simply responding to our energy demand.
  • We will need fossil fuels for a long time to meet energy demand.


  • What is divestment?
  • Why do you ask [target] to stop investments in fossil fuels?
  • What has [target’s] response been?
  • How much money does [target] have invested in fossil fuels?
  • [Target] does not have a lot of investments. What’s the point?
  • If [target] sells its shares, someone else will buy them.
  • What has the divestment movement achieved so far?
  • [Target] needs to ensure to get a good return on their investments.
  • Where should [target] put its money instead?