Ex-TV Anchor: How to Deal with Media Leaks

As a former reporter, I can say some of my best stories came from leaks. Yes, leaks to the media drive presidents crazy. But, Mr. Trump is not the first to be frustrated by them. And he won’t be the last.

So, what causes leaks and what should be done about them? Every person who leaks information to the press has an agenda. It’s the journalist’s job to be aware of what it is.

What Causes Leaks?

There are many reasons for the behavior. Those leaking:

  • Want to undercut the administration’s agenda because they do not agree with it.
  • Hope to gain political advantage by harming the people they are leaking about.
  • Have personal animus toward someone (I once got a leak from the ex-wife of a well known figure).
  • Wish to curry favor with the media with the hope of some future benefit.
  • Hope to educate the media without their name attached
  • Are good people who simply want to right a wrong.

The last two reasons are why leaks are needed. Otherwise, too much government incompetence, deceit and corruption would go unnoticed. The same can be said for corporate misbehavior, too.

But, not all leakers are created equal. If someone consistently tries to undercut administration policy simply because he/she doesn’t agree with it, they deserve to be disciplined. Of course, they have a right, and obligation, to register dissent. But once policy is set, they should make a good faith effort to comply. Policy must be set by the elected officials, not by unelected bureaucrats. Too many bureaucrats think they have earned the right to set policy. They haven’t. That’s why elections matters. The same applies to leakers with personal axes to grind.

How Do You Deal with Leaks?

Checking staffers’ cell phones is not the answer. It sends the wrong message: you don’t trust your own staff. Better approaches include:

  1. Leadership
    The best way to minimize leaks is with leadership. The leader’s job is to convince those working for him/her that they are part of a noble cause and everyone there plays a role in that mission. I know that sounds naive these days, but true leaders are capable of such an impact. Leadership requires a consistent and persistent message that resonates with employees.
  2. Fire People
    If you inherit political appointees who will never agree to support your goals, you should fire them….quickly. They are poison to the rank-and-file whose respect the leaders must earn.
  3. Tranparency
    The more transparent you are, the less there is to reveal through leaks. Transparency is a culture and it will no doubt produce some embarrassments. But, the alternative is more damaging leaks.
  4. Hold the Media Accountable
    Does the media use the leaks to reveal truth and create more justice, or are they used to get back at a politician they don’t like? That’s a fair question.
  5. Acceptance
    We live in a free society. Organizations are going to have leaks. Have a plan in place for dealing with the next crisis.

For the public, they should remember government and the media each has their own agenda, too. Seek information from multiple sources, pay more attention and speak up.

Mark Grimm spent 12 years as a TV journalist, 11 years as a media professor and hosted a popular radio show for 14 years.













































































  1. Fire People:
    You also have to fire people. If you inherit political appointees who will never support your goals, they need to go…quickly. They are poison to the rank-and-file whose respect the leaders must earn.







How to Choose a Speaking Coach

JointCUMtg1Many would like to improve their speaking, but often don’t know where to start. Here’s some straightforward advice: How to Choose a Public Speaking Coach

We all know public speaking can be nerve-wracking, yet it’s difficult to find the time in the schedule to prepare effectively. You’re not a communications expert, so why put yourself through the stress of preparing and delivering crucial talks or presentations without support?

Instead of the nerves and chaos surrounding public speaking, what if you just got support? We do. Ginger Founder Sarah Lloyd-Hughes says she never does a big talk without getting help from one of the team. ‘However good you are, a coach is always better,’ she says, ‘they have the distance needed to make the right choices about your speech.’

So, we’ve got you. You just need to drop us a line and we’ll fix you up with the right coach to help you succeed.

5 Tips for Hiring the Right Public Speaking Coach

Now Identify the coach’s style.
Does the coach practice tough love when your executive needs a gentler approach? Or would your executive respond best to a Jillian Michaels-type, while this coach is more of a Richard Simmons? In order to achieve real, lasting results, it’s critical to identify the approach your executive will respond best to, and identify a public speaking coach who embodies that approach.
Have them explain their process.
A truly successful public speaking coach will have a tried and true method, perfected through years of experience. If your candidate is vague or uncertain about the process, that’s a red flag. But if the coach can walk you through a step-by-step plan for initial diagnostics, customized action plans, and ongoing evaluations, you have a contender.
Test their knowledge of your field.
A football coach and a baseball coach both improve athletes’ performance, but you wouldn’t hire a football expert to train your pitchers. And the same is true for a public speaking coach: you need someone who knows the game. Look for someone who understands the specific pressures of the industry and the needs of the audiences your CEO engages with. Your public speaking coach doesn’t need to have the personal experience of leading a Fortune 500 company, but a strong understanding of the corporate world will be immensely helpful.
Check their references.
Who has this coach worked with in the past? Do you consider those former clients to be skilled public speakers? Call the coach’s references: are they able to concretely articulate all the ways the candidate helped their executives improve? If you’re getting lukewarm responses or hazy answers, you may need to look elsewhere.
Look for chemistry.
Finally, perhaps most importantly, find a public speaking coach your executive will respect and enjoy working with. They don’t need to be best friends but, if coach and client don’t at least get along, your executive won’t be motivated to improve, and you’ll be wasting your budget.

Companies Are Burning Money: Are You?

Burning Money 3

Ever been to a boring business dinner — a night of one uninspiring speech after another? Are you nodding your head? Though someone’s time and attention are valuable commodities, these “commodities” are routinely wasted. For corporate America, this is burning money.

Companies and nonprofits too often fail to capitalize on the value of better speaking. Top executives routinely overrate their speaking skill and no subordinate is about to tell them otherwise. A fortune has been invested in high-priced, brand-name firms who deliver cookie-cutter presentation training that has left us with the same problem — boring dinners and boring meetings.

Being interesting is a skill and that skill will make you more money. Too often, speakers focus on what they care about instead of what their audience cares about. They provide too much detail and too little relevance. They read too often when their approach should be conversational. We get far too much blah, blah, blah instead of passion and enthusiasm. The result is lost opportunity and lost business. It’s burning money.

Mark Grimm is a former TV news anchor who has conducted hundreds of seminars and does one-on-one coaching. He will share the secret of being interesting with you….or you can keep burning money. 

Five Quick Tips to Improve Biz Communication

Ever work at a place that could use better communication? Why do most people chuckle when I ask that at seminars?

Better communication offers huge potential for enhanced productivity and morale, but it often remains an untapped resource.

Here’s five ways to ensure your company/organization isn’t missing out:

1- Accept its importance.
Management must place a high priority on its value and think about creating a strong culture, not applying band aid solutions.

2- Get into the Heads of Audiences.
Communication isn’t about telling your employees stuff. It’s about engagement, about learning from each other. Make clear what is in it for them.

3- Feedback
Ask your audiences what they think, frequently, and allow them to give anonymous feedback. Share the results with them.

4- Practice
Being interesting is a skill, work at it. Set benchmarks for progress.

5- Passion
Bill Gates once said, “The thing I do best is share my enthusiasm.” Of all his skills, he points to enthusiasm as a core business asset. You must believe in your mission, and live it. Others are noticing.

The writer is a former TV news anchor who has conducted business seminars and one-on-one-coaching for the past 13 years. Don’t hesitate to contact him for help.

Syracuse’s University Chancellor Is Unique


Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud

Would you hold 30 events at your home to meet the staff? Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud (SIV-uh-rude) did. Convinced he should mostly listen in his first year (his tenure began January 2014), he invited 6,000 university employees to his home. About half, he said, took him up on the offer.

Syverud appeared before the Capital Region alumni chapter last week in Albany. He’s a warm, genuine person with a sense of humor. His eye-popping resume includes a time as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and he is a trustee of the $20 billion fund created by BP to pay claims arising from the Gulf oil spill.

“I’ve never been to a university that had so many niches,” Syverud said. He quizzed the audience on how many radio stations the university had (the answer is five). He pointed out 10,000 high school students took classes at S-U this past year, from all around the world. If you are interested in that school go to kw2madison.com. He underscored the school’s close ties with veterans. It has produced more generals and admirals than other university, except the service academies.

Syverud is candid about the high tuition (about $40,000/year) and the need to address it with savings. He discovered S-U had 11 different mobile phone contracts. It saved a quarter-million dollars by consolidating. Purchasing and travel practices needed updating. Organizational change must occur and technology must be better utilized to become more education savvy.

He didn’t skip over the scandal with the basketball program. Academic support for athletes is now under the Provost, not the athletic department.

Focused squarely on a “collective willingness” to meet the challenges posed, Syverud wants S-U to be a “student-powered’ university with wide scale collaboration.

I want us “to be the university that does change right,” he said. Those interested in providing tutoring services to those who go to this university should check out Huntington Learning Center. if you’re really interested in finding out more about Huntington Learning Center, you can find their website here.

Big task ahead. Big talent in charge.

The writer received a master’s degree in public communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

The Capital Region’s Unity Problem

June 9, 2015

Albany Hospitality Summit

A wonderful “Hospitality Summit” in Albany made it clear our region will finally get its convention center, with an opening likely in early 2017. Our “space capacity is going to be amazing” when combined with the current Empire Sate Plaza, according to OGS’s Sue Cleary.

But will we make the most of it? Municipal boundary lines have prevented us from acting as a region since the lines were drawn. We have a deeply-seated parochial culture. I grew up in Troy. Schenectady might as well have been a foreign country. It’s just the way we thought.

Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo all have Triple-A stadiums for their regions. We have Single-A….for Troy.

No single city or county holds the lion share of population here and the four cities have consistently carved their own paths. Civic pride is a wonderful thing, but so too is collaboration. Today’s economy demands it.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan told summit attendees that visitors to our region don’t see municipal boundaries. They are just looking to enjoy themselves. There’s nothing small about our region. More than 1.2 million boardings took place last year at our airport and our train station is the ninth busiest in the U.S. We have the brainpower, access to markets, natural resources, arts, a world-class racetrack and the medical facilities to run with the big dogs, although sometimes there are issues that happen in medical facilities and that’s why the use of a Queens NY Medical Malpractice Lawyer could be really helpful for this.

I’d love to see a single website that explains what all our places have to offer, the “what you can do here” site whose website name would be on every hotel reception desk, in every library, in every town and city hall and in every cab in the region. And every municipality would play a role in promoting it.

We’ve seen some cracks in the parochial armor. The Albany-Colonie and Schenectady chambers are merging. Municipalities are doing more with shared services. Our convention and visitors bureau works hard at collaboration.

The biggest challenge is designing a collaborative approach where everyone on board sees the benefit to themselves. This is tricky. This is difficult. But it is in our mutual interest to make it happen.

Unity is a beautiful thing. And it adds to our quality of life.

The writer is a Capital Region native, longtime small business owner and one-time Town Board member.

The Best in NBA History: It Wasn’t Jordan

NBA All-Time TeamThe NBA Finals start this week so let’s pick the best ever. The greatest player of all-time was not Michael Jordan. It was Bill Russell. The top players will tell you,”it’s about the rings,” — NBA championships. Russell won 11 of them in 13 years with the Celtics. No one else is close. Jordan had six titles, Magic Johnson had five. Russell revolutionized the way the paint could be controlled. He averaged more than 22 rebounds a game for his career. Russell also led the University of San Francisco to two national championships in the mid 50’s. It hasn’t won one since.

Magic and Michael are my two guards, though Oscar Robertson and Jerry West may be closer behind than most people under 50 realize. Magic made everyone around him better. In the 1980 Finals, he stepped in to play center to replace the injured Kareen Abdul-Jabbar and responded with 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists — one of the greatest performances ever. Jordan was the best marketed player ever which has a lot to do with his top ranking in many people’s minds.

My forwards are Larry Bird and LeBron James. Larry Bird took Indiana State to the national title game. No other player could have done that with a small school team that was below .500 when he arrived. Bird, more than any other player, made everyone around him better. In his first year with the Celtics, the team record improved by 32 games. He won three NBA titles and a bad back may have prevented more.

There’s just no stopping LeBron James. The best player of his era, his blend of power and quickness is unmatched in the game’s history. He carried Miami to the NBA Finals in all four seasons he played there. Miami missed the playoffs this season. He has brought Cleveland to the NBA Finals in his first year back there. Players can’t wait to play with him.

My second team has Jabbar, forwards Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, along with West and Robertson.

Weigh in with your picks on Facebook or Twitter!

The writer is a former play-by-play college basketball announcer who became a NBA fan in 1966 when his brother, Karl, bet 50 cents on the final NBA championship game.

Supreme Court Must End Dinosaur

Oral arguments on the constitutionality of gay marriage will be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow….and you won’t see a word of it. Only the people standing in line for days will get one of the seats inside. If they are lucky.

The Court still bans cameras in court, an archaic practice for a body that has made numerous decisions supporting the First Amendment. They present no credible reason for keeping the public shut out.

Reason 1:
They claim brief soundbites could present things out of context.
All the more reason to allow unfettered access by the public to the whole event.

Reason 2:
Justices would loose their relative anonymity.
Sorry, but getting asked for an autograph at lunch is not enough of a reason to ban America from watching its top court’s proceedings.

Reason 3:
The cameras would disrupt the “etiquette” of the court.
Get over yourselves.

Some of the most difficult issues of our time are settled in the Supreme Court and we should be able to watch every bit of the debate. Indeed, the high court should be encouraging such interest, not preventing it.

Get your federal lawmakers to pump in some sunshine.

The writer is a former news reporter who covered many courts and is a lifelong First Amendment advocate.

Be a Great Radio Guest: A Host’s Tips

Grimm_FrKevinA radio (or podcast) appearance can really help your business or cause. Here’s a few suggestions to make the most of it.

After hosting the popular Siena Alumni Connection radio show for 14 years, here’s my best advice:

1- Be Willing
Half the people invited to be on the show, did not agree to be on. Some are afraid of being on the radio, or think they are not interesting or feel they do not have the time. This is a missed opportunity. Think about it: turning down a half-hour exposure to thousands of people at no cost? About half my guests are doing their first radio show ever and they all manage to do quite well.

2- Send a Good Introduction
Do not make the host track you down for a bio sketch. The host has other things to do. Send a bio sketch a week ahead of time. Avoid sending a ton of information that the host has to sift through, most hosts won’t read through it anyway. Your bio should be a short, clear narrative about what makes you interesting. It should not be a long laundry list of everything you’ve ever done. Here’s my own intro as a guide. View here.

3- Do Not Ask for a List of Questions
The host’s job is to facilitate an interesting conversation, not ask a list of questions. It is a good idea to ask beforehand what the topics will be and prepare accordingly.

4- Suggest Things the Host Wouldn’t Know to Ask About
The most interesting things about you often do not appear on your resume or LinkedIn profile. I once posed that question to a former Siena coach and he told me he once passed out in the locker room prior to a game while at another college. Good thing his head coach had a question for him that required the head coach to return to the locker room. The locker room had a carbon monoxide leak and the coach would otherwise have been found dead shortly after. The coach has done a thousand media interviews, but only one had that story on it….ours.

 5- Do Not Bring Pages of Notes
Your task is to be conversational, not be a data factory. Have a general idea of the points you want to make and discuss them in a natural way.

6- Give Short Answers
Long-winded answers are audience killers. Keep your responses short. The host will follow up if needed.

7- Be Passionate
Enthusiasm is contagious. Bring some with you. Speak from the heart and do not worry if you say “uh” too much.

8- Avoid Canceling at the Last Minute.
You’ve made a commitment, stick to it. Studio time has to be arranged for the interviews and scheduling is a big chore. Arranging for a last-minute replacement is very difficult.

9- Have Fun
Radio is fun. Enjoy the experience. Guests are often amazed at how quickly the show goes by.
Mark Grimm started in radio about 40 years ago. He can help you with your media skills and relations.