I recently received some questions from National Master Michael Aigner about how to deal with the media. With Michael’s permission, here are some of the questions from Michael and answers from the Marketing and PR expert Paul Truong:

M.A. Since you two are experts in the field of chess in the media, perhaps you have some pointers orcan direct me to a website. Of course, it is easy to sing praise about a kid whom I like andrespect a great deal. You’ll probably say “just relax and be yourself”–easier said than done. Still, I have a few particular questions that you might know the answers for:* Are there any key sound-bites about chess that leave a good impression in the media?

P.T. Chess is the fairest game. It does not matter what is your gender, age, race or even physical abilities.

M.A. Should I compare chess players to successful people in other fields, such as academic or sports?

P.T. Yes, chess can be better promoted if it is not about chess alone. Not everyone can become Kasparov, Fischer or Karpov. But everyone can enjoy the game and receive benefits from it, regardless of age, gender, race or physical attribute. Give examples that chess can teach kids to think logically, be more patient, more discipline, etc. and chess can help prevent Alzheimer when dealing with more mature people.

M.A. How do I describe an “expert” strength player? Contrast to a Grandmaster or an average player.

P.T. Like an NCAA player vs. an NBA player 🙂 since this is March Madness in College Basketball. It is something that the media can better understand.

M.A. How do I break down the stereotype of a chess player as being a nerd?

P.T. Will Smith loves chess. So do Shaun Alexander, Priest Holmes, etc. So does Bill Cosby or Madonna’s husband Guy Richie 🙂 Tell them this is one of the biggest misconception. Chess is for everyone!

M.A. I am also concerned about the media concentrating on my own disability rather than my student’s accomplishments. As you know, I refuse to dwell on my disability, even when talking about myself.

P.T. This is a valid point. I see you as a chess player, not as a person with disability. But because of how your were born, you are more special to many of us. You inspire others. You inspire me. Use it to your advantage. Use it to inspire others. This is how you sell chess. You are very special Michael and never forget it.

Michael Aigner is a master and a highly successful chess coach. Michael qualified for the 2007 US Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is on his way to getting his FIDE Master title.

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