Chris Farley & How to Avoid the Media Mistakes I Made

Most of the time, you don’t know when your media opportunity is coming. Here’s an inside look at the media mistakes I made, to help you prepare for your own moment in the spotlight.

Comedian and actor, Chris Farley, died 20-years ago. He was a superstar in the 90s at the time I was in college. He died after a long battle with addiction. He was only thirty-three and was already the greatest physical comedian of my generation. He didn’t survive — but he left behind many stories. This is mine.

“Kathryn! You’re on TV… call me!”

“Kathryn, I just saw you on E!”

“Kathryn! I didn’t know you dated….. Chris Farley?!?”

Ten messages on my answering machine.

It was 1999… and I was just months out of college and at my first full-time TV job.

I heard the messages right after walking in the door after producing the news all night at WCIA in Champaign, Illinois. I was so tired, I had to listen to them again to understand what was going on. Then I called someone to get the scoop.

The “E! True Hollywood Story” on Chris Farley premiered the night before. It described Chris’ time at Saturday Night Live, at Marquette University, his drug abuse…  and my picture came up in the show over and over. It was not flattering. Because of how I looked… and what the announcer track was saying while my pictures were coming up. Here’s a clip.

Chris Farley died during my senior year of college. The dean of my college called me over Christmas break and asked me to head back to school early so I could plan the memorial Mass at Marquette University. I was the president of my college and Chris went to Marquette.

The year prior, Chris came back to campus to accept an award.  This is also the last time I wore a dress this low-cut. THIS is the event where my pictures were taken along with dozens of other students with Chris. After Chris died, producers from E! went to Marquette to collect pictures. The dean handed them over… and the producers didn’t keep track — so editors used pictures of me in places that the track was not referring to me. I clearly did not date Chris, nor was I part of his downward spiral into drinking… as the E! story said.

On the day of the memorial Mass — I had Chris’ family there, bagpipers and Pat Finn to give the eulogy. (You’ve probably seen Pat in The Middle, Friends and Seinfeld… he’s great.) His eulogy was hilarious and loving. He told stories that illustrated Chris as a student… to us, a chapel full of students. I wish I had video of it in its entirety. He also told stories of how Chris would make regular trips to the Joan of Arc chapel on campus to pray… talk to God… and just be alone.

After the service, the local stations wanted to interview me.

I didn’t even think about this possibility.

I was unprepared. (I know much better now… I was 20 then.)

As a young broadcast journalism student who wanted to be a reporter (as I thought at the time)… I blew my chance. I gave the all-time lamest soundbite. It’s here if you want to see it:

Between the low-cut dress at the awards event the year before and the soundbite at the service — these are the first two mistakes I made when it comes to media and public speaking.

But I learned a lot.

  1. When the story on E! aired, I was a young TV producer. This taught me to be very careful when writing to pictures and video. Make sure the track matches the visuals. A mistake can hurt someone’s reputation.
  2. Be ready for anything.
  3. Watch the makeup. Don’t let it be a distraction.
  4. Dress how you would want to be portrayed in pictures or on video — especially if you’re going to a high-profile event. You never know who may see the picture.
  5. Have your elevator speech ready. What will you say if the media shows up? How will you answer if someone at that wedding asks you what you do, or why you’re “in between jobs,” or what you’re looking for in your next role? What will you say when they ask you what your company does? Remember — quick responses that stick with your audience.
I coach clients so they’re ready when their opportunity comes.
Most times – you don’t even know your opportunity’s coming.
You need to be ready now.

Kathryn Janicek | Media Coach, Producer, Public Speaking Trainer
Kathryn Janicek is a three-time Emmy Award-winning television producer with 20 years of experience working in newsrooms across the country. Kathryn coached talent, producers, and writers before switching her focus on helping entrepreneurs and corporate executives. Now, based in her home city of Chicago, she is a much sought-after media coach and public speaking trainer who will help you produce the best YOU. Click HERE now to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Kathryn!

What we can learn from the total solar eclipse, that will make us all better human beings

If you’re like me, you were confused about all the information surrounding what glasses to wear during yesterday’s eclipse.
We can learn a lot from the total solar eclipse story.
Like many news stories – some of the information was right, some was wrong. Whether you read the paper or watched your favorite meteorologist, you heard about 100 different ways to watch it. We heard things like go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and get welder’s glasses. Then we heard the welder’s glasses had to be #10s or they have to be #12s. It kept changing. I went to about four different Home Depot and Lowe’s the last 3 or 4 days (we just bought a new house and we’ve been regulars at the home improvement stores) and they were all sold out. ALL the grades of welder’s glasses. Probably the first time in history. Therefore, there were people looking up at the sun with the wrong glasses. Glasses that may give them a false sense of safety.
What’s scary, is there was not one message out in the media the last couple of weeks about what kind of glasses or what kind of cereal box or what kind of thing you can create or make to watch the eclipse with you and your kids (not your pets). In fact, NASA was trying to keep up with it all so it could let people know what was the real info to follow.

My husband works in healthcare and he was at a conference last week where he was given glasses that were supposed to be great for the eclipse. A couple of days later – he received an email that told all attendees to throw away the glasses. They weren’t safe. Even health care experts gave their people the wrong glasses.

I ended up working all day and just watched the eclipse live on WGN-TV. I knew the most passionate person would be meteorologist, Tom Skilling. I was NOT disappointed. In fact, he made news covering the story. He was so happy, overwhelmed and tired – that he started crying. You can read more about that here.

The solar eclipse story is a good example of why you, as an informed citizen, need to watch many, many, many sources of news.Look what happened with Charlottes’ F(?) – If you were someone who only watches or follows certain people on twitter, you would think it’s one story, but if you follow different sources on twitter, you would think the story goes this way.

Look what happened with the coverage of Charlottesville, Virginia. It hit on a Friday night and into Saturday when there’s less TV news coverage. So if you jumped over to Twitter for your news and only follow a certain kind of person — you would think it’s one story while it could be something entirely different.

Journalists covering the racial violence in Charlottesville struggled to find the right words to tell you the story. Some sanitized it. Some didn’t show the most hateful pictures. They censored much of what you saw on TV. A big reason is you can’t show “bad” words on TV.

So you – as a viewer don’t get the BIG picture.

This is why you HAVE to watch/read/follow and listen to many sources of news.

If you just watch FOX News, it’s really important to watch CNN a few times a week. Throw in some BBC too so you can see another viewpoint on what’s going on here in the United States and in other countries.

If you follow people like David Duke (for example) you saw his brand of news Saturday. I follow him because I like to see what EVERYONE is saying. I like to see the news people are disseminating, so I can understand when people have certain thoughts or beliefs. I don’t censor my viewing or reading. I WANT to know what’s being shared. I want to know what people think. People who aren’t like me. People who don’t have the same beliefs. If I have a better picture of the world – I personally feel that I can be a better person. I can better understand how people feel and why they feel a certain way.

Don’t censor yourself by watching one news channel or reading one source of news on the web. Broaden your sources so you can be a more informed person and possibly, a more understanding person.

If you watch or read only one source of news and believe it — you could get a lot more than just retina damage.



PS: Congratulations to Mission 2 Organize – Professional Organizing & Productivity! I’m happy to have been able to land them in this article on moving. This is great to help with SEO and getting more people looking at your website at

Boy is this my life right now… packing and unpacking!

What Facebook Live can do for you (i.e. increase sales)

Think you don’t have a good enough story or message to go live on Facebook?

Don’t know how to make a Facebook Live land you new business leads?

Is your only production knowledge from watching Wayne’s World? “Camera one, camera two… camera one, camera two.”

Think it’s all a waste of time?

My Facebook Live show this week answered all your questions:

  • Why should I be on Facebook Live?
  • How do I use it to land more sales?
  • How can I set up Facebook Live to fit MY budget?


I’ve been going live since 1998 as a TV producer. Longer than most people you’ve seen call themselves “live video experts”. My background is in making other people look great while broadcasting live on TV. Once Periscope got on the scene — I jumped all over that going live from TV shoots in Hawaii and other destinations. On Facebook, I have taken viewers like you live to:
  • a TV shoot in Mississippi where I was covering a historic case
  • Kansas the week of the 2016 presidential election to show what the middle of the country was thinking
  • and I also do live shows on Facebook to share how you can gain the media’s attention and improve your public speaking skills.

I LOVE live video. But honestly, I love PRODUCING live video. Without doing my own Facebook Lives, I was missing out on the MARKETING POWER Facebook Live has for everyone like me who owns a company.
Don’t be like me in 2016… missing out on all that marketing power. Missing out on the clients I could have landed.

Watch this video to find out:

  • Why people will see your Facebook Live faster than any blog you post
  • How you can promote new products or services on Facebook Live
  • How Facebook Live creates trust with your audience
  • How it helps your marketing strategy
  • Why you should interview your CEO on Facebook Live
  • How to share the video later and integrate it into your overall marketing strategy
  • What kind of equipment you need to do a high-quality FB Live (without busting your budget)


I’ll be going live again next Thursday at 1 pm Central so mark it in your calendars, set an alarm, whatever you need to do to make sure you’re here on my Facebook page. Oh, and send me your media or public speaking questions and I’ll answer them live.

Join Kathryn Janicek Live Every Thursday on Facebook at 1pm Central

Want to get on TV? Don’t repeat the mistake these guys made

I’ve been on the road a lot this week. I have clients on TV and radio shows in Chicago and New York. Plus, I stopped by the set of the show, “Matter of Fact” in Washington, DC. I produce stories for the show.

“Matter of Fact” is anchored from inside the Newseum. Have you been there? It’s an interactive museum that takes you through the evolution of the earliest print and electronic communication to the technologies of the future.

As I worked on a story for “Matter of Fact” this week, I realized how many people make a huge error when it comes to getting booked in the media.

Do you want media?

Do you want to be seen as the expert the media should call when something happens in your industry?

Here’s something people do all the time — and I want you to learn from them (and me) and not make the same mistake!

I explain it here: How to Get Media (Learn from two experts who made this mistake)

Along my journey as a TV producer, I’ve been asked several questions that I’d like to answer for you.

Have you wondered:

  • How do you get the media attention you deserve?
  • What makes a good TV story?
  • How can you become the go-to expert the media calls first?
  • How can you have more confidence on stage?

If you’re ready to take yourself to the next level and learn insider secrets from my 20 years in media — make sure you sign up for my emails where I’ll be dishing out the goods.

Let’s produce the best YOU.