The truth about Media Training
I have been part of media training sessions for nearly two decades. It started with being the PR support, working alongside seasoned journalists to train senior client executives, and I’ve now been the media trainer for a number of years.
Media training doesn’t have to be delivered by a journalist
Why the jump? Because whilst I felt that journalists are great at providing interview experience with a journalist, the training can often uncover a lack of story, message and value to bring to the interview. The training then inevitably needs to evolve into a messaging session, and the ability to combine media experience with communications experience at this point is a must… Knowing how to bridge from a tricky question to talk about something positive can only take you so far.
I’ve worked with journalists who are exceptional at their job, and others who are so fresh (or so long in the tooth) that the interview dies before it even has a chance. This is where the person being interviewed needs to have confidence, conviction and the right content to take ownership and communicate a story in a way that can save the opportunity with both hands.
The specialism of a journalist to train on how to deliver a killer interview is only worth something if you’re able to back it up.
It’s not just media training
Media training is also a catch-all training session. It shouldn’t be considered only when media interviews could be on the horizon. Consider replacing ‘media’ for ‘general stakeholder engagement’ – feeling comfortable to deliver company messages and personal anecdotes in a sincere and engaging way. Swap investigative journalist for unhappy customer and you’ll need similar techniques.
Media training needs time
I meet executives who only have 90 minutes to give to a training session. This is just not enough. I’ve never known a training session not to over-run – at the request of the participant/s. The training often uncovers gaps in storytelling, messages, and positive angles to potentially negative situations. Time is needed to really work these through.
I recommend between 3.5 and 4.5 hours for a single or double media training session. As soon as it extends into three people you definitely need more time - everyone should get at least two opportunities to practice their interview technique after all!
So if you’re considering media training, make sure you allow for enough time not just to have the role-play practice, but to also explore and evolve messages and stories that you can pack in your mental suitcase, ready to use anytime, anywhere. You need to own them. You need to deliver them in your words, in your way.