Public Relations

What Is Media Training: Navigating Traditional and New Media in 2024

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New media is changing everything. From the way audiences consume news to how intelligence is collected and warfare is conducted, the pervasive influence of new media has both revolutionized and democratized the flow of information and how it is shared. 

And although the brevity and immediacy of new media has given a voice to the masses and invited otherwise unheard audiences to become active participants in the news cycle, the potential for virality comes with a double-edged sword. 

Stories that once travelled through the filter of seasoned news desk editors are now guided by algorithms fine tuned to generate high engagement among audiences—and when clicks act as currency, sensationalized headlines, provocative angles and emotionally-charged stories will often find their way above the fold before more nuanced reporting. 

This new reality underscores the importance of media training for today’s business leaders: When a simple tweet has the power to build or dismantle reputations overnight, the ability to convey a clear, concise and compelling message has never been more critical. 

This article aims to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of what effective media training looks like in 2024 and provide the fundamental skills for navigating through both the traditional and new media landscapes. This includes mastering the art of the soundbite, understanding the nuances of different social media platforms and developing crisis communications strategies in an age where attention is scarce and news cycles are measured in seconds.

What is Media Training?

Definition and Scope

Media training can be any form of instruction or coaching designed to prepare individuals for effective communication with the media. Its scope encompasses various techniques and strategies to help individuals, such as executives, spokespersons or public figures, navigate interviews, press conferences and other media interactions with confidence and clarity. Media training should also be an integral part of any organization’s communications strategy—if a spokesperson isn’t able to effectively interact with the media, it’ll be nearly impossible to get quality coverage and, in turn, be hard to promote the organization.

Objectives

The objective of media training is to empower and enable spokespeople to communicate messages clearly, handle tough questions adeptly and maintain control of their narratives no matter what is thrown at them. It should help them reduce their nerves, present themselves both professionally and likeably, and reinforce core narratives.

Benefits of Media Training

Enhance Communication to Be More Compelling

Media training is designed to empower individuals with the essential skills needed to articulate their messages clearly and persuasively. Beyond simple communication techniques, media training teaches participants how to structure and refine their narratives as well as how to leverage each moment in an interview or conversation to its fullest potential. Through practical advice and simulated scenarios, media training guides interviewees to become more compelling for reporters, readers and viewers alike.

Attract Future Opportunities

If a reporter genuinely enjoys a conversation with an expert, they’ll be that much more likely to want to work with them again. A trained spokesperson who knows how to be likeable and presentable can increase the chances of getting repeat interviews, and even attract the attention of other journalists who are interested in speaking with them.

For example, one of our clients in the pharmaceutical industry not only excels in preparing her messaging but also consistently builds personal connections with reporters. As a result, she has become a trusted resource for journalists who now reach out to her proactively for new story ideas and commentary on industry developments.

Establish Common Pitfalls Before Getting Started

Good training can also point out places where interviewees often slip up, and could cause issues down the road. Knowing about certain strategies, such as how to avoid getting trapped by difficult questions, avoiding freezing up due to nerves, or knowing how to reinforce core messaging despite the questions that are being asked, can improve interview performance. Having as many potential pitfalls sorted through before an interview starts makes it that much less likely that a spokesperson will run into a problem during their conversation. 

Learn to be Likeable

Effective media training can teach spokespeople how to present themselves and their organization in a likable manner, which can foster stronger connections with reporters and build a trusted brand image in the public eye. The ability to consistently convey this likable image in all speaking and media opportunities helps to reinforce and cement that positive impression.

For example, we work with an executive in the self-checkout technology space who is exceptionally personable. The impact of his engaging and likable persona has resulted in continued intrigue and outreach by members of the media who are all too eager to collaborate with him.

Building Confidence When Facing the Media

One of the key benefits of media training is its ability to boost individuals’ confidence when interacting with the press. Through practice and guidance, individuals learn how to handle challenging interview situations, navigate tough questions and maintain composure under pressure, lowering the chances that they’ll freeze up. As a result, they feel more confident and assured when facing journalists or participating in media engagements, which ultimately enhances their effectiveness as spokespersons or representatives of their organization.

One client in the healthcare space came into the media interview process with a lot of anxiety. This led to extensive preparation sessions before interviews took place, walking through messaging, the pacing of the conversation, and more.

After the interviews wrapped up, recap calls were often held to point out areas of improvement. Over time, these preparation sessions have gotten less in depth, and less frequent, as she has nailed her interviews and grown more comfortable following the trainings. 

Getting the Most out of Your Interview

When securing a media opportunity, it would be best for the people seeing the piece to see spokespeople as experts, or the organization as a trusted voice in general. Training through messaging, and understanding the core of a story can make sure that no matter how long an interview is, the main points are shared.

During these media conversations, a spokesperson may not always get the questions asked that they want, but they can learn the best ways to tie in the answers that they want to make sure to say. Consistent and strategic messaging, coupled with polished media appearances, can help to cultivate a favorable public image and strengthen the overall reputation of the individual or organization.

Who Needs Media Training?

Anyone representing themselves or their organization in a public capacity should undergo media training before stepping into the spotlight. This preparation is crucial for ensuring that their interactions with the media are effective and beneficial.

The scope and nature of media training can vary significantly based on the individual’s role and the types of media opportunities they will encounter. However, the need for some level of media training is universal across several key groups:

  • Business Leaders and Company Executives: These individuals are often the face of their companies and need to communicate their vision, value and strategies clearly to the public, investors and stakeholders.
  • Public Figures and Celebrities: Those in the public eye must manage their personal brand and navigate interviews, press conferences and public appearances with confidence and poise.
  • Nonprofit and Advocacy Organization Team Members: These individuals need to articulate their mission, rally support and handle potentially sensitive topics effectively.
  • Experts and Industry Professionals: Whether discussing their field in a niche publication or addressing broader issues in mainstream media, these professionals must present their knowledge in an accessible and engaging manner.

Choosing the Right Media Training Program

Just like any communications effort, a lot of factors need to be weighed when deciding what sort of training program is the right path before moving forward. For instance, some organizations may have never done a media interview before and need to start at square one. In that case, connecting with both a PR agency that can help to develop messaging, as well as an experienced trainer to walk through the entire process and what to expect will be essential to get started. 

The history of an organization and its established messaging, previous experience of media interviews of the proposed spokespeople, and the pipeline of upcoming milestones and announcements are just some of the elements that can weigh in on determining what type of media training would be best.

Different Types of Media Training Programs

Formal Training Walkthroughs

For spokespeople just starting out or in need of a refreshed, a formal, full media training walkthrough is essential. They can range in depth, but should discuss techniques to answer questions, avoid difficult ones, reinforce messaging and narratives, talk about more nuts and bolts things, like where to place hands during a broadcast interview. In short, they should go through every aspect of an interview, and break down how to behave in each of them to ensure the best possible performance.

Mock Interviews

Mock interviews put spokespeople in simulated interview formats, to get them accustomed to thinking on their toes, and answering questions in the flow of a larger conversation. While not presenting the same pressure as a real scenario, they can help to force the spokespeople to put all of the learned tactics into practice and make sure there are less surprises when it comes to doing the actual interview.

Formal Rehearsals

Trainings can continue on with informal self rehearsals. Having a spokesperson go over talking points on their own, sorting through potential questions is a good way to make sure that good habits are reinforced and familiarity is built with messaging and narratives. After they receive a formal media training, this can be a way to help prepare for each individual interview they have moving forward.

Tips for Selecting the Right Provider

When selecting a media training provider, be sure to conduct thorough research of an organization or individual trainer before working with them. In particular, seek out providers with a long track record, established history in the media space, and proven connections with reporters across all types of outlets. 

Partnering with reputable public relations agencies will be able to provide reliable trainers, or at the very least work closely with several, making them safe sources for finding out who you can trust to bring you a successful training program. When reaching out, ask about the potential for customizaiton of the training programs, flexibility and ongoing support in the long term, to help determine if needs are aligned with their capabilities.

Our Approach at Channel V Media

We have coordinated thousands of interviews over the years and know what to expect for all types of discussions with the media. Whether going live on national television, or having a phone call with a nice trade publication, we understand the importance of every connection, and know how to help you prepare. 

We cater each media training approach to fit the needs and comfort levels of the subject matter experts we work with. Whether it’s setting you up with one of our connections who are leaders in media training, or our experienced in-house staff, we’ll be ready to run through the ins and outs necessary to properly prepare for an interview. 

Our extensive network of reporter contacts also means we can train spokespeople specifically for the reporters that they’re going to be meeting with many times. We are the trusted, steady voice that can make sure that you get the right messages out to the right people, in the best way possible.

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