Three Reasons for Media Training
by Bill Deeter
Simply put, media training helps people and companies understand the media, develop skills and confidence to be effective in interviews, and communicate concise messages with assurance, strategy and control. It seems in today’s fast-paced world, more and more clients think media training isn’t necessary. They don’t have time for it. Or they don’t want to spend the money on it.
Yet in order to achieve effective media coverage, spokespeople should strive to be seen and heard in the media regularly with simple, consistent messages that resonate.
About 20 years ago, I wrote the book Working With The Press and I recently went through a copy, marking up sections that had changed since I penned the original. In this era of instant access and social media, rules and tools change constantly, and it is important that the practice of media training keeps pace.
Here are three reasons why good communications include media training.
Reason One: Being Unprepared Risks Reputation and Crisis
How many times have you seen a community leader, business exec, sports figure, entertainer, or politician say or do something that makes them, their cause, or the product they promote lose total credibility? Unfortunately when that happens all the apologizing and rationalizing can’t make up for the lost golden opportunity. They have put the reputation of their business or cause at risk. If your spokesperson is prepared, media training can save them and you from disaster and position your people, products and services in a favorable light.
Reason Two: News is a Useful Business
Making friends with the media doesn’t guarantee positive news coverage. News is news! If you have it, the media will be interested. If you don’t have it, they won’t. It is just that simple. Media has a job to do. If you accept this fact, realize they are neither friend nor enemy, and really concentrate on delivering news, you will be doing everyone a big favor. When you are able to help make the medias’ job easier, more fun, educational, or important, you will do well. Success leads to more interviews and helps build credibility. Along the way, you can become a reliable resource.
Reason Three: Messages Can Get Lost
Getting media attention and coverage is a challenge at best. Good reporters try to balance their coverage with as many newsworthy perspectives or facts as possible. Media training guarantees that when the opportunity comes, you have two or three key messages well thought out and rehearsed, including answers to even the most “difficult” questions. These messages must be very clear, concise and relevant, presented in terms the interviewer will understand. If not, your comments will inevitably end up on the cutting-room floor. When an interview has been completed, you want your message delivered accurately. The target audience should remember your message above all others.
Done correctly, media training takes skill and is a powerful business tool. It’s an excellent way to reach consensus on important company messaging and create third-party endorsements. It’s also a great way to create a sense of team and common purpose among participants. This all will serve a company well over time.