Whatever kind of business you run, the chances are that, at some point, you will need to engage with the media. This may be for something positive such as a new product launch or a future listing on the stock exchange if your business is a success.
It could also be negative, for example, when a data breach occurs. Whatever the reason, a spokesperson needs to step in front of the media to sell the success or perform a miracle of damage limitation.
Most businesses nominate a spokesperson to handle areas like media interviews. In smaller companies, it’s often the owner. In larger corporations, it can be any number of top-ranking CEOs.
What businesses don’t often invest in is more formal media training. While there may be just a few times when you need to speak to a journalist or go on camera to be interviewed, inexperience and lack of understanding can have significant consequences for your business if the opportunity does arrive.
The Benefits of Media Training
- Building confidence
One of the reasons why people refuse to engage with the media or have themselves interviewed is because they are inexperienced. It’s simply easier to shy away from engagement rather than subject yourself to a cross-examination, particularly when the story is likely to be negative.
Media training takes you through all aspects of dealing with journalists, being interviewed or holding a press conference. That means you will be more confident in your approach and well prepared when the need arises.
- Understand how the media operate
A large part of media training is learning how journalists work and the way news stories are put together. It gives you a deeper insight, for example, on how news items compete for space and airtime. Knowing simple facts like this means you should be better prepared to ensure that your story is noticed and picked up by media outlets.
- Learn about different channels
Things have changed dramatically over the last few years when it comes to news distribution. Old fashioned broadsheets and daily news broadcasts have been replaced by online sources, social media and 24-hour coverage. Each media has its own challenges and nuances which you need to understand if you are to engage effectively.
- Interview practice
You are likely to be interviewed in a variety of different circumstances if you are the designated spokesperson for your business. Having a radio interview is different from going on TV. A down the line interview where you can’t see the interviewer is different from one where you are sat in a studio. Some journalists can be more aggressive than others, depending on what they are trying to find out.
Practising interview techniques not only improves your confidence but also makes sure you understand what it means to be prepared.
- Tailoring your messages
Finally, media training also encourages you to focus on your key messages and how to get these across. Sometimes you will only have a very short window to get your ideas across and show your business in a good light. Having a number of key messages and being clear about what you want to say and achieve is vital, especially if you have to respond on the spur of the moment.
Stepping in front of the media is not the easiest of things to do. While you may be great at presenting a product launch to prospective clients, engaging with journalists and other media people is a different story altogether. Media training will ensure that you understand the environment and are prepared to meet the challenges of representing the company in the full glare of the public eye.