Every public relations professional worth their salt will tell you that media training is essential for any enterprise that wants to generate positive media coverage. Why? Because storytellers – from founding entrepreneurs to seasoned CEO – must understand the fundamentals of delivering messages effectively through the press. Whether in one-on-one interviews, press conferences or panels, media spokespersons have to be prepared to effectively engage with journalists.
The thought of media training is terrifying for some people, but the actual process doesn’t have to be painful. Based on my experiences facilitating trainings over the years, I’ve compiled the following media training insider tips to help newbies prepare for their first session.
Media training isn’t about memorizing a script. People sometimes mistake the purpose of media training as memorizing a script and continuing to deliver the say words in the same way in response to questions. In fact, media training helps spokespeople get comfortable with very specific key messages then deliver those messages in an authentic way.
There will be a camera and you will (eventually) be comfortable with it. One of the major pain points for media training clients is getting over their fear of the video camera. Most people aren’t naturally comfortable on-camera, but like any skill, it can be learned. In fact, I’ve found that many spokespeople completely forget about the camera by their third time being taped.
The tough questions are the most important ones. Media training prepares spokespeople not only to deliver positive PR messages, but also to manage unexpected, potentially challenging questions and situations. “Bridging” (aka “pivoting”) is a technique you will learn in your training. The media trainer’s role is to prepare you for the difficult questions and give you the tools to address them.
Media training is continuing education. Successfully completing a media training is a big important step, but there is always work to be done in the quest to become an effective media spokesperson. In addition to homework that your trainer will provide, plan to do brief “refresher” sessions to work out new messaging. You’ll also begin to consume media differently – as you hone in on and learn from the techniques used by professional journalists and media personalities.