One of the things that every public relations person needs to do is get media training. But what exactly is media training, how do you get it and what is the process like? While media training can differ slightly from one instructor to another, these are fairly easy questions and we will take a look at the entire process in this article, including why it is so important.
Media training is the teaching of techniques and skills that can be used when speaking to reporters, releasing press statements or in any other contact with the media. Media training is often part of a college curriculum focused on public relations, but this is not always enough. As such, many PR representatives get outside media training from one of many firms that offer it. These workshops not only teach skills, techniques, methods and theories, but they also have practical exercises such as simulated interviews, press conferences and other media events, sometimes with instructors playing the part of abrasive or difficult reporters in order to get the PR rep used to them.
In a word: yes. The fact is; the media isn’t always on your side – or your company’s side. If a reporter can get a newsworthy story from you or a quote or comment that they can put in a damaging story, they are going to use all of the tools at their disposal to do so. Most reporters are ethical, but there are a few bad apples that may use coercive or even manipulative means to be able to write the story they want. But difficult reporters are actually the least important reason to get media training.
Everyone who deals with the media should get media training, because when you talk to reporters, you want to speak to them like a professional, and ensure that your message is concise, clear and wrapped up in the best possible presentation. Media training is absolutely vital for the public relations executive or company spokesperson, and even small business owners who do their own representation should get media training.
There are some pretty big benefits that come with media training. The main one is that you develop confidence in yourself and your ability to speak to professional media types, on camera and off. Holding a press conference can be a scary proposition for a PR rep, especially when the reporters attending the conference are from major media outlets such as national television networks and well-known publications.
Another benefit that you get is that you learn how to get your message out. Because you have to deal with your own nerves, questions being fired by reporters and various other obstacles, it is not uncommon for PR reps to answer questions and give statements that are not as clear as they would like them to be. Media training teaches reps – and anyone else who is attending the workshop – how to ensure that your main message is being transmitted loud and clear.
Media training also teaches PR reps how to control the press conference, even when reporters are flashing bright lights, shouting questions and shoving microphones in their face. A seasoned PR rep may have developed their own techniques for controlling the press event, but someone new to PR can get flustered quickly, and allow the reporters to direct the conference. Media training gives the representative tools that they can use to get reporters to allow them to speak, to hold questions or to accept the answer that they’ve been given. They are able to steer the interview or conference back to where they want it if it should get off track.
Media training also prepares the PR rep for potential problems with the media. Part of this is preparing answers in advance and making sure that you research your topic carefully and review with your company what you should and should not say. But some of these techniques are for before and after the press conference or interview, rather than during it. Being prepared allows reps to avoid saying something that they shouldn’t or failing to answer a reporter’s question at all.
Also, media training teaches basic skills that some PR reps may need a refresher course on. Often, PR reps that have not prepared for an interview properly, or do not have the skills to communicate effectively may get misquoted or make their company look bad. Media training helps to avoid that, which is why many companies choose to pay for the training themselves and make it mandatory for their PR department. This includes knowing how to dress appropriately for various circumstances, how to present yourself to the camera and use your body language to exude confidence and how to use facial expressions and eye contact to influence the audience.
Finally, media training often includes workshops on using social media as PR representatives, as well as other parts of the internet. Social media is a huge part of public relations these days, and being able to post the right messages at the right time is vital to your company’s image. Plus, many companies have websites or blogs, and some with busy comment sections. Media training will teach PR reps when to jump into a conversation and when to avoid one, as well as what kind of wording and language to use if you do get involved in a comment section conversation.
The bottom line is that media training is important for anyone in business who needs to deal with the media on a regular basis, or even wants to prepare for a potential disaster involving the press. Media training can give PR representatives the confidence and skills that they need to do their job. Media training isn’t that expensive, and many companies will pay for it themselves if asked. PR reps that undergo media training are able to handle big press conferences, perform well at on-camera interviews and in general, become a better PR person.