Media Training for the Media Trainer

Media training is an important part of any PR program. While some may scoff at the idea and insist they don’t need media training, at the very least a crash course in how to talk to the media should be undertaken before media interviews are scheduled.

As PR professionals, it’s our job to make the training as succinct and yet complete as possible. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for the next time you take a client through media training.

Keep it moving – Executives are short on time and attention spans. Leaders of a company often have daunting workloads and requiring a day or even hours of their undivided attention takes them away from all of their other responsibilities. It’s important to make the media training relevant and engaging.

The agenda should limit the lecture time and instead focus on interaction. Think about real-life examples – show clips of broadcast interviews gone wrong and what a properly executed interview looks like. Let them pick out the good, bad and the ugly.

While it would be ideal to have a few hours to walk through a complete media training, if time is limited stick to the basics. If nothing else the training should cover the importance of being prepared, company media policies, and then dive right into discussing media interview techniques. If time allows the rest of the training should spent on practice interviews – in-person, broadcast, and phone with video playback and discussion.

Provide honest, but fair feedback – It’s import to have the participants practice each style of an interview (in-person, broadcast, phone) so they can learn the nuances of each. Having a video recorder on hand to tape the practice sessions with an immediate replay ability to review the sessions with the executives is immensely helpful.

As the trainer, you’re there to be a trusted advisor and give constructive pointers in an effort to help the participants grow their skills. The video playback will also help them to pick up on things they may not realize they do such as saying, “um…” or not making eye contact, etc. If video playback is not available, group feedback and encouragement will be beneficial for the participants.

Keep it small – Limit the amount of executives participating in the group and break up the number of sessions if you have a lot of people to train. A smaller group (three to four participants) is less intimidating to stand up in front of to practice. It’s also easier for you as the trainer to get through the sessions and feedback while still keeping the other executives engaged. The other executives will often offer encouragement or tips when it’s a smaller group.

Do your homework – This tip goes without saying but come to the training fully prepared. This doesn’t just mean know what you’re talking about in terms of good interview skills but also know your audience. Learn what each of the executives is responsible for, why they might participate in interviews and what types of interviews they’ve done in the past.

Knowing the details will help as you conduct mock interviews. You’ll not only be able to ask questions about the company but also tailor interview questions on the spot to suit their strengths and know where to hit them with tough questions.

The goal with media training is to teach executives to represent their company intelligently, speak confidently and have the ability to navigate challenging questions to align with the company’s mission and vision. Clients will appreciate the investment on media training when they master successful interviews and garner great coverage.