While Peyton Manning may not have won the MVP title at Super Bowl 50, he certainly wins an award for being one of the best examples of controlling the message in an interview in recent history. Not only is he the “poster child” for the NFL, he now holds that title for what happens when you pay attention in a media training.
Here are the key techniques he used that any spokesperson should keep in mind to make an interview a success:
Manning was asked if he was planning to retire after this Super Bowl win at two key points – immediately following the last seconds of the game, when emotions are at their highest, and then later on during the trophy presentation.
His response both times was nearly identical, and he used several tactics, including satisfy and steer and repeating key messages, to get his point across.
Rather than avoid the question altogether, or give a negative response, he said he needed to reflect, but had other priorities to focus on. America swooned as he said those priorities were: kissing his wife and kids, celebrating with his teammates, and thanking “the man upstairs.”
Manning has a history of getting choked up in interviews, and this segment that aired on CBS Sports prior to the Super Bowl is a perfect example. Yet, the Sheriff made sure to let his personality shine through, while refraining from letting his emotions get to him.
His composure is another tell-tale sign that he had carefully rehearsed his response to the inevitable question that was coming his way whether the Broncos won or not.
Emphasize Your Message
Most importantly, he also made sure to flag what he wanted the audience to focus on. Using the simple statement of “I’ve got a couple of priorities” immediately made the audience pay attention to the items he listed out afterwards.
By the time he was done, did anyone remember that he never answered whether this was going to be his final game or not? Maybe, but the majority will remember how he is committed to his family, his faith and his team.
As public relations professionals, it’s our job to ensure a spokesperson knows how to handle difficult questions. One of the most effective tools for preparing is a media training session focusing on the client’s key messages. At rbb Communications, we offer half- and full-day sessions, to provide clients with as much in-depth training as they need in order to feel comfortable the next time they’re in the spotlight.
It remains to be seen if Super Bowl 50 was the Sheriff’s last rodeo, but his post-show performance will live on in media trainings for years to come as one of the best of all time.