Almost every public and private organization expects to be placed in the public eye at some point. Most plan for the launch of a product or service, or strive for awards and accolades, but not all media exposure is as welcome: the news channels are full of examples of product recalls, information leaks, perceived and real conflicts of interest and calls for further scrutiny.
At these times, all the effort that has made your organization what it is will be filtered through the perceptions of a handful of news agencies determined to get the facts—or at least something newsworthy. Fortunately, world-class media training can help corporate spokespeople prepare for both good and bad news.
Knowledge is your first defence
Understanding how the media work can help you get journalists what they want, while ensuring that your own message comes across clearly. This knowledge will also help you to build relationships with the media: by becoming a helpful and valuable contact for journalists, you are helping your organization to remain newsworthy and ready to promote ideas at a time of your choosing.
Practice makes perfect
Every job interviewee knows that there’s reams of advice on how to “ace” an interview, but few go ahead and do what’s most important: practice. Quality media training involves sample interviews to prepare you for scrums, hostile questions and attempts to derail a productive discussion. In addition to helping you become comfortable with interview settings, these scenarios teach you what to expect—and how to deal with the unexpected—so that you can stay in control and present in a way that plays well on television, radio and text-based media.
Not all news coverage is a crisis, and not all organizations want media attention – but when a crisis becomes public, the most resilient organizations have not only prepared their spokespeople in advance; they’ve also geared themselves to coordinate and respond in ways that lend credibility to their public voice.
Media training can make a critical difference to public perceptions of any organization, whether it’s a government body, a private enterprise, an advocacy group or an association. While the most common candidates are media-relations officers and CEOs, media training can benefit anyone who is called to speak to the media.
For example, the media may wish to talk to technical experts or scientists responsible for a study’s findings, or the benefits of a new technology. Liaison officers who deal with specific market segments or special communities may be ideally placed to discuss outreach programs or services with the media. Likewise, project managers are often called on to provide first-hand experience of initiatives that have caught the public eye. Large organizations may find it beneficial to provide media training to various people throughout their hierarchies, to ensure that reporters can find appropriate answers, and to provide backup for media-relations officers.