Preparing for a Great Media Training Session

Good Advice from Galaxy 6 in the US

I’ve trained about 10 people this month and was inspired to write this post. A great media training session depends on both parties. Once you’ve decided to commit to media training, make sure you come prepared. Here’s a list of 10 tips on how to get the most out of a media training session!

  1. Match with the right trainer: Is the trainer the right person for you? Are you able to take advice from a man, a woman? Do you want to hear the truth? Do you need to have a current news reporter giving you advice? Find a trainer that fits in with your needs. Understand that many trainers have news backgrounds, and while that helps polishing up for an on-air/print interview, often these trainers don’t have the experience of working with companies and understanding their needs from an interview. On the other hand, does the trainer have PR experience? If that’s the case, ask if they have any experience serving as a spokesperson. Most trainers will allow you to pre-interview them to determine if they are the right fit. Watch on-air clips or read print articles of the trainer and ask yourself, “Is this someone that I would want to give me honest and direct feedback?”
  2. Prep yourself and your team: Prior to the session, prepare yourself – or your team — with the right messages: Do you know what you want to say about your company? How about your product or APP launch? So many clients walk into the training and don’t understand this time is about delivering the message. If you need time to develop the message, schedule a separate session and get those messages in place prior to a media training.
  3. Prepare main messages: Write down 3 main message points about your company or product. You will be asked to rehearse them – over and over again. Yes, if you are unable to deliver the messages effectively then you can work on revising them – but this is the end of the process, not the beginning (see point #2).
  4. Jammin’? Java? Jokster? Do what it takes to liven yourself up! Is it a good night’s rest? A cup of coffee? A morning workout? When you bring energy into a media training, you will put your best foot forward and then we can hone in on your skills and develop them even more. You can also figure out what works – and doesn’t – before a press interview.  Should you avoid that double espresso or make sure to stop at Starbucks on the way?
  5. Appearance does matter: Wear an outfit that you believe will appear well on camera. This is practice for the real thing. This includes hair, make-up and attire. Wear solid colors, not too much jewelry, no patterns or prints and avoid t-shirts (even if you are practicing for print interviews – appearance and professionalism is important).
  6. Turn off the noise: Try – just try – to focus on the training. Imagine you are really in a press interview. What is it like to work with a journalist? Turn off cell phones, complete your texts and get to work. This may be your first (and last?) time you ever get to work with the press.
  7. Trust the trainer: Do your best to utilize the feedback and go back and try to do it again. You will see for yourself how much that feedback can help you improve and feel more comfortable with the interview process.
  8. Best bloopers: Ask your trainer to send examples of good and bad news clips, or to show you them during the training. Watch and learn from the experts. Also, watch and read old interviews you’ve participated in. Bring the clips to the trainer of print articles you liked/did not like. What was wrong with it? What was your best/worst experience with the press? Share this with the trainer so they will be able to help avoid the situation again.
  9. D-I-Y Training! If you aren’t ready with all of the above, avoid the media training all together! Simply record yourself using your iPhone video device – ask/answer the 10 hardest questions you think media will ask you. Replay it and watch yourself! You will be your own worst critic and avoid the training all together. Don’t forget to go back and try it again with your self-feedback. [And, you know who to call if you don’t want to do it yourself!]
  10. Prepare your trainer:  Here’s a quick checklist of what we ask clients to provide so that we can do our part in preparation as well:
  • Company goals and objectives for training outlined in a document and/or via email
  • Company overview or corporate presentation
  • Company message points
  • Top media outlets that cover your company
  • Sample of past interviews by trainees
  • Trainee bios
  • FAQ in previous interviews, and or FAQ expected in future interviews

About JS

John Stonborough FCIPR specialises in media relations, providing an authoritative and discreet advocacy to corporate and private clients world-wide. He specialises in handling the hostile media and media regulation. He is known for observing "An interview is no time for an original thought." He is the great-nephew of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. His working career began as a London policeman and then as a reporter for the Daily Mail, BBC Radio 4, Thames Television and Channel 4 TV. From 2001 to 2004 he was The Media Advisor to the House of Commons Commission. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He is married and lives in London, England. www.stonborough.com
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