'Silence is golden', even when you're on the TV and radio

Look what happens when you let your guard down just for a moment. You sing a song when you think no one is listening, and it threatens to become a bigger story than the one you were there to talk about in the first place.

Don't talk (or sing) in front of the camera when you're not being interviewed, advises Jack Baine
Don't talk (or sing) in front of the camera when you're not being interviewed, advises Jack Baine

I suspect Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury's, won't forget the lyrics to "We're in the money" anytime soon.

He was caught on camera singing the words to the show tune from 42nd Street as he waited to be interviewed by ITV News on the company's proposed merger with Asda as their share price rocketed.

Oh dear.

Mr Coupe has apologised, so the world moves on, but it's a timely reminder of what good media training should teach you - what to say, and what NOT to say (or sing).

Singing CEO cops flack, but PR must be on song for Sainsbury's and Asda merger

Even the most experienced operator, who has access to the best PR brains in the business, can come a cropper.

I'm not a fan of spokespeople being trained to such an extent that they sound like robots – there is a place for personality on the TV and radio – but not if it leads to an embarrassing blunder.

I was a journalist at the BBC for twenty years, so I've had a ring side seat at hundreds of interviews.

The best ones had three common ingredients - passion, authenticity and authority.

Too often media training can stamp out the first two in favour of the third, which means the spokesperson comes across as an automaton.

Not a good look.

There is, of course, a balance to be struck between delivering your key messages, and coming across as human, but in an age of unrelenting scrutiny the need to sound authentic is paramount.

Having said that, you need to remember the basics.

And by basics I mean not talking, or singing, when you're in front of a camera, even when you're not being interviewed.

Even when the red light goes off, assume someone is always listening or watching.

What's the worst that could happen?

Jack Baine is a broadcast consultant at Good Broadcast

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