What is media training?
Media training is a professional development program designed to teach business executives, public relations teams and other key members of your organization the tools and strategies they need to ensure any interactions they have with the media result in media coverage that has a positive impact on the company. While media training sessions vary based on the needs of the company, typical components of a program may include:
- What to wear and how to sit during a media interview
- Preparing and responding to different media platforms
- Supporting your responses with facts and figures
- Expecting and preparing answers to tough questions
- Responding to questions about proprietary information
- Responding to questions you didn’t expect or don’t know the answer to
- Transitioning an interview discussion to cover the company’s objectives
- Communicating in a manner that makes your company’s message clear
- Responding to statements a reporter makes that you disagree with
- Watching real video examples that show best practices and common mistakes
- Taking part in recorded video drills and reviewing them for strengths and areas of opportunity
- How to ask the interviewer for more time if they signal the interview is over and you have something else you want to discuss
- Best practices for various messages such as making a large external announcement, preparing for a major interview or responding to a crisis or emergency
Why is media training important?
Media training teaches businesses and their employees’ several important things, including how to:
- Exercise control during media interviews
- Be comfortable and confident during media interactions
- Prepare and relay communications consistent with the company’s brand
- Garner positive media coverage that creates and maintains a positive public impression
Media training also creates a safe, non-public environment in which a business’s representatives can practice and develop the key skills and strategies related to communicating with the media.
How to train for the media
Use the following steps and best practices when training for the media:
1. Determine your talking points
Begin by determining what message you need to communicate on behalf of your company. Then, choose specific talking points to help you communicate your message, writing each major discussion topic on a notecard you can bring to the interview. This acts as an outline for your interview.
2. Conduct research relevant to the interview
Begin your research by finding the name of the journalist who is conducting your interview, the name of the media company they work for and what personal views and beliefs they have related to your message. Then, research what media format they will use to deliver your message so you can prepare accordingly.
3. Practice discussing your talking points
Use the talking points you chose in the first step and the information you learned from your research to practice discussing each talking point. If possible, ask someone else to help you by taking the role of the interviewer.
4. Practice responding to questions
As you practice discussing each of your major talking points, think about the questions the interviewer may ask and practice your answers to those questions. If someone is helping you practice, give them a list of questions you have thought of and ask them to add additional questions they think of. Try answering as many questions as you can think of so the interviewer doesn’t surprise you with a question you don’t have an answer for.
5. Be aware of what you are communicating non-verbally
Sometimes, the things we communicate with our expressions or actions tell people just as much as the words we say. Be aware of the message your body language and facial expressions are communicating. Remember to sit up straight with your shoulders rolled back and your head held up, maintain eye contact and smile and nod when you agree with something the interviewer says.
Frequently asked questions about media training
Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about training for the media:
Who needs media training?
Ideally, every key member and employee in your company needs to receive some amount of media training. Individuals who commonly represent your company in the media such as founders, executives and public relations teams need media training to learn how to remain calm and comfortably deliver their intended message. Individuals within your organization who do not represent the company in the media need to learn how to appropriately respond to requests for comments if a journalist or reporter approaches or contacts them directly.
How long does media training take?
The average length of a media training program varies based on the needs of the company and the topics being covered. Some programs last between two and three hours, while other programs take an entire work-day. Some media training programs also offer follow-up sessions or support after the initial training.
How do I choose the right media trainer?
You can use the following considerations to ensure you are choosing the right media trainer for your company:
- Amount of industry experience the trainer has with the media
- Diversity of topics and types of meeting situations they cover during their training session
- Inclusion of practice drills, video camera recordings and real-world recorded examples to reinforce lessons
- Whether the trainer provides follow-up services and support after their training
- What former clients say about the trainer or their services in reviews and testimonials