Media Training and Why it Matters
Preparing for a media interview seems like a major undertaking. And it is. Where do you even start? On one hand, you want to say so much about your company, but on the other, you don’t want to ramble on. For some, preparing for an interview on their own can seem like more stress than it’s worth.
For others, there’s media training.
Media training can help to significantly decrease the stress of a media opportunity, while maximizing the potential for success. So, what exactly is media training?
What is Media Training?
Media training teaches employees how to become company spokespeople. They learn how to interact with the media while staying on message and representing the company or organization in an intentional way. Through media training, spokespeople develop a toolbox of skills to accomplish a predetermined media strategy.
Media training doesn’t just mean being told what to say and how to say it. It means receiving expert training to help improve public speaking skills, prepare for an interview, build relationships with reporters, anticipate questions, how to physically act when presenting a message and how to stop using “ums”. Ultimately, media training aims to improve speaking skills and confidence. The actual training could involve mock interviews, developing messages and talking points for a fake crisis, or self-evaluating a recorded interview session.
Helping individuals become familiar with their own unique verbal ticks, body language patterns and overall presentation is essential to media training. It empowers representatives to tweak where necessary and become more self-aware in areas that need improvement. The more confident they are in front of a camera or when speaking to a reporter, the more credible they are as a representative of your company.
Who is Media Training For?
Spokespeople aren’t just the people you put on TV and in advertisements. So, media training isn’t just for those specific individuals.
In fact, company CEOs, board members, public relations staff, and anyone else that could potentially interact with the media should undergo media training. Even professional athletes undergo media training before facing the scrutiny of the media. If there’s a chance an employee interacts with the media, they should be trained in how to handle it.
What are the Benefits of Media Training?
There are a ton of benefits to media training for businesses and brands. Not only will spokespeople and representatives be able to more effectively represent the company, they’ll also have an easier time doing it.
Prepare Effectively for Interviews
Knowing what journalists are looking for is half the battle. Media training prepares spokespeople to know what information journalists will most want. That means having the facts ready and anticipating the angles a reporter may take. Are there rumors that need to be addressed? Is the reporter known for anything in particular? Knowing how to approach an interview in the context of your business is crucial when preparing. If it’s a financial or industry publication, knowing numbers is key. If it’s local tv, employment statistics and community engagement messaging are probably more important.
Get on Message and Stay There
From rambling quotes to off-message anecdotes, an untrained spokesperson is sure to lose their footing in an interview at some point. Media training will help employees stay focused and on-message. If or when things start to fall off the rails, media training will remind them to get back on message and stay there. That advice would have gone a long way in 2010 for BP CEO Tony Hayward, when after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he went on television and declared that he wanted his “life back”. The tone-deaf statement was ridiculed online for ignoring the lives that were actually destroyed by the disaster. It was a PR blunder that could have been easily avoided if he would have simply stuck to his message.
Look and Sound the Part
Looking and sounding the part of spokesperson can sometimes get awkward. It’s important though. Spokespeople need to look and sound confident. That can mean leaving expensive jewelry at home when raising money for emergency relief aid. It can mean checking your tone during crises, even if they’re unrelated to your industry. It can also mean something as simple as not wearing a brand’s clothing if they are embroiled in controversy. Media training may involve modifications to wardrobes, or a crash course in hair and makeup. Confidence is key too, so practicing company talking points is an important part of media training. Not only that, practicing sticking to those talking points when a journalist is trying to dig for something else may be even more important to a business’s PR efforts.
Media Training at Work
When media reaches out asking for an interview with a client, we work with both the client and the media to organize when and where the interview will take place. We then set aside 30 minutes with the client to discuss the specific topic along with any other subjects that may be discussed.
Within these 30 minutes we cover quite a bit of ground. We make sure that the client is comfortable with the topic, and we practice a few interview questions. We discuss words to try and avoid such as “um” and excessive use of the word “like.” We also discuss brand recognition and repetition, ensuring that the client’s name is mentioned by the interviewee as naturally and as often as possible.
Does My Business Need Media Training?
Media training is not one-size-fits-all. Every business and organization has different needs and goals. What we know is true, though, is that any business that plans on utilizing local news, industry trade publications and magazines, or is aiming for national coverage, needs media training in order to make the most of any opportunity that comes its way. If you are looking for media training or other public relations services, don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime at MBakle@WeTellYourStories.com.