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Martha de Labbey

Published on

September 3, 2019


media relations, public relations

It’s always a risk to speak to the press; they are likely to report what you say – Hubert H. Humphrey

Speaking with media and journalists can be exciting but also absolutely nerve-wracking. Not every executive is a masterful storyteller, but the good news is those good spokespeople are made not born. Learn how to provide an effective and professional media training strategy for your clients with these tips and tricks.

Media training can be a highly effective opportunity in helping executives to develop the skills they need to get their message across succinctly and with impact. Just make sure to work in these must-do’s to make the interview training session as realistic and impactful as possible:

Do Your Homework

While there are certain core principles that every media training should include that’s not to say it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. Each executive is going to have their unique strengths and weaknesses that will need to be put to the test during training. That is why it’s super important to get as much candid insight as possible on the executive and layer in some tailored exercises to make the training worth their while. Ideally, this would come from your internal client (if you work on the agency side) or the executive themselves (via a pre-training questionnaire) but you should also do your own analysis by reading up on articles they’ve been quoted in or watching video interviews they’ve done in the past to come armed with pointers and specific examples to reference.

Start By Giving Them a Lay of the Land

All executives are media consumers but that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand what makes the news. With the media landscape constantly evolving, and particularly, as social media morphs into its own digital press room, it’s important they clearly understand the role they play as a spokesperson in the broader context of the media news cycle.

Get it on Tape

Most people cringe at the thought of seeing themselves on video but it’s really the most effective way to improve their interview skills. After the first mock interview play the videotape back for the executive and provide instant feedback on their performance. Do another mock interview towards the end of the training to see how well they listened and incorporated the feedback. It’s also a good idea to share the recordings with the executive so that they can use them to continue practicing and honing their interview chops.

Play the Bad Guy

You know those less than savory questions the executive wants to avoid at all cost? Those are the questions you should be asking during media training. As public relations professionals, we often feel protective of our clients and don’t want to put them in the hotseat or make them feel uncomfortable, but it’s our job to fully to prepare them for anything a reporter can throw their way. By taking it easy on them, you’re simply doing the executive a disservice and diminishing the value of training.

Have a Leave Behind

Sitting through a full day or even a few hours of media training can be a bit of a whirlwind, and frankly, exhausting. There’s so much information to take in and do’s and don’ts to remember that it can all blend together. Creating a one-pager that succinctly outlines the guidelines and tips and tricks covered during the training gives the executive a handy refresher to use the next time they prep for an interview.

Media interviews can and should be an enjoyable experience. And with a little practice, guidance, and confidence any executive can master the art of the interview. Check-out our PR services & see how we can help you.

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