Book Review: How to Master the Media

By Rick Bell Friday, March 20, 2009

I have a library of business books that I’ve read and retired to the shelves, most were interesting in some way but were not compelling. A good many of them postulate dangerous business practices as though management were a science and people are predictable. Follow their advice and you’ll really have problems.

But a few of them have become reference books for me. This elite group of books occupies space on my desk – not the shelves -- and is referred to often enough so that they become dog-eared and do not outwardly represent the great wisdom they contain. These books teach me something specific; there are so few of them.

The writer is invariably at the top of his game in the particular field and is a good teacher. Someone who has earned the title of expert on the topic in the trenches, and yet is generous in his gifting to you the specifics he has discovered that WORK EVERY TIME. Rules that are pearls of wisdom.

One of these books is new on my desk, but I wish I’d had it all through my career. Its title, How to Master the Media is about as bold as you can get. If you could actually learn how to master the media by reading any book on Earth, it would be amazing. Well, get ready to learn how to master the media when this book is delivered by your UPS driver next week.

Every one of the twelve chapters in this book is a complete lesson in mastering one aspect of the media and coming out on top. The topics go from "How to look good on TV" to "How to speak in a crisis" and everything in between.

Let’s take for example Chapter 4: Successful Interview Tools.  In this chapter the author explains the skills you will need and rules to follow to nail your interviews. He even tells you the tricks of the reporter’s trade. He explains how to prepare yourself, how to get your message across and how to handle the investigative reporter. He instructs you to ask every interviewer five questions before agreeing to the interview. He reveals the professional reporter’s top seven dirty tricks. He tells you eleven rules for acing any interview including, “Don’t go off the record” and “Don’t Guess” and tells you when it’s time to shut up! In twenty-seven pages this chapter really does get you prepared to master your next interview.

The author, btw, is George Merlis the former Executive Producer of “Good Morning America”, “The CBS News,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “The Dick Cavett Show.” As you can imagine, he’s worked with many of the top names in news and entertainment over the past twenty-five years. He’s personally trained rock stars and rocket scientists to meet the press and he has earned his stripes. He really KNOWS how to master the media and he really tells you how to do it, in detail, with rules to follow and examples to make his point. He’s a great teacher.

Whether you’re just starting your business or have been running a successful company for twenty-eight years you need this book. It is fascinating reading, highly inspiring and the kind of jewel you’ll want to have at your fingertips when the need arises for you to encounter the media, in any context.

We are thrilled to announce that George Merlis will be our first Guest Blogger! Stay tuned, for his series on Mastering the Media right here on The HBS Blog.

*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

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