When we think of media training, we often picture the classic crisis situation – something awful has happened, and journalists are on the doorstep with cameras and microphones demanding answers.
While this can happen – and it’s important to be prepared in case it does – more often than not, media training is not just about preparing for the worst.
Why is media training important?
Whether an interview is planned or spontaneous, about good news or bad, a good grounding in interview techniques can make the difference between a PR success or a damaging failure.
The rise of a 24-hour news cycle, the immediacy of online news platforms and the potential for social media to spread and amplify news and rumour make it more important than ever for responsible business leaders to know how to handle print, online, and broadcast interviews.
If there is good news to share, media training can help you get the best out of it – engaging readers and viewers with the best version of events to celebrate success.
If the news isn’t so great, or a crisis situation develops, a response to media can be make or break when it comes to your business’s profile and the public perception of your brand.
We’ve all seen politicians and business leaders face tough questions from media – and some fare better than others. Its about strategy and messaging of course. It’s also about delivery, authenticity and sincerity.
Who can forget Prince Andrew squirming in front of Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis – a spectacularly misjudged interview that led to his total fall from grace in the eyes of the public.
How do you feel when Prince Harry and his wife Meghan speak to interviewers? Did Liz Truss’s robotic delivery affect her short-lived prospects as Prime Minister? Did you place your trust in Professor Chris Whitty during the Covid-19 crisis, or doubt the authenticity of then Secretary of State for Health’s Matt Hancock’s tears on TV?
In a myriad of tangible and intangible ways, everything from the clothes you wear, your tone of voice, your phrasing of answers and your ability to think your way around a question makes a difference when it matters.
Get it right and you may emerge from even the most challenging situations with a good, or at least a less damaging, outcome.
How can you improve your media skills?
Media training doesn’t just teach you how to maintain composure and come across in front of an interviewer. It also provides you with vital skills when it comes to messaging – how to ensure your businesses priorities and values come across in your answers.
It gives you a deeper understanding of the media landscape and their respective audiences – which outlets are likely to have an agenda, how a regional interviewer may differ in approach to a national one, and how each can most effectively be handled with an appropriate response.
For any business likely to find itself in the public eye, whether planned or unexpectedly, media training is a wise investment that pays dividends when it matters.