Media Training Days & Workshops
Empower your team to tackle any media requests on message and with confidence
Many employees, no matter at what level, can panic when a media request for an interview hits their desk. What should they say? What shouldn't they say? The alarm bells start ringing. Through our one-to-one or team training, we'll work with you to design a workshop or course that allays their fears and empowers them to deliver the right messages, in the right way to the right audience.
Key elements of our training cover:
Understanding the media:
what do they want?
Mentions in broadcast or print media are known as ‘earned’ PR
(which also includes word-of-mouth, praise on social media etc).
hence why it’s ‘earned’. That said, what journalists want is actually very simple,
and anyone who can help them achieve their goals can generate a mutually beneficial relationship with the media.
- Journalists are looking for fresh information—and ideally, they want an ‘exclusive’.
- If a story has been covered before, they will want an original angle they can use to sell it to their editor.
- They will be catering to a specific audience.
- They prefer a personal, human angle—it makes a more emotive story.
Clear and reliable information
- Anything you give them should be accurate.
- Make your point clearly, succinctly and in accessible language.
- They will always want you to support your points with facts or examples.
- Be immediately engaging! Journalists may filter emails by subject line.
To hit their deadlines!
- They expect to be treated like a professional contact, so keep your promises.
Communicating your message:
Never go into a media interview without a clear agenda. If you plan ahead,
you can meet both your own goals and the interviewer’s,
with an informative and interesting piece of content.
Safe questions: Be sure to answer these fully — they help you and the interviewer.
- Informational questions (e.g., Can you tell viewers where they can find out more?)
- Confirmational questions (e.g., “Can you confirm that…”)
- Vague or open media questions (e.g., “What is happening in your field at the moment?”)
- Non-questions (statements, e.g. “It seems to me that…”)
If you are responding to bad news or a crisis, difficult questions are unavoidable. Ideally, you should be prepared for the hard questions and have a rehearsed answer. But if not:
- Never respond to hostility from an interviewer.
- Stay calm, don’t get flustered.
- Remember the bridging techniques (Section 4)
- Remain calm, but show humanity and empathy. Rather than resorting to “No Comment”, try to stick to the three Rs:
- Regret (Saying “sorry” without admitting liability)
- Reason (Stick to the facts)
- Remedy (Actions – what you are doing about this crisis)
Other types of dangerous questions to watch out for:
- Confrontational/loaded questions: designed to surprise you or repeat the negative. Don’t repeat negative questions; correct the error and bridge back to your message.
- Hypothetical or speculative questions: Trying to get you to comment on something that may be unlikely to happen and runs the risk of taking you off-topic. Don’t try to predict the future; stick to your key messages.
- Repeat questions: The interviewer may repeat a question several times to get you to say something you don’t want to. Repeat your original answer again to stay out of trouble. If you keep repeating the answer, the interviewer will stop asking!
- Off-topic media questions: An interviewer may ask you to comment on a subject you don’t know anything about. Just say you would prefer to discuss your area of expertise and bridge to your key messages.
- Paraphrasing: This is a question that attempts to put words in your mouth. Nip it in the bud with a short “no,” and bridge to your key message.
- Personal questions: Know where to draw the line. Controversial questions are best addressed with short responses. If certain information is in the public domain, answer succinctly and look for an opportunity to bridge to your own agenda.
- Find out as much as you can about the interview in advance, including who you will be speaking to.
- Bring your own water and compact mirror.
- If possible, use the opportunity to bring in branding, such as standing in front of a logo wall or wearing a branded uniform.
- Communicating passion and energy is critical in order to engage an audience. For the audience to believe and invest in what you’re saying you need to look and sound as if you mean every word.
- Pay attention to your body language.
- Using your hands to punctuate important points and project energy can help, but practise in front of a mirror or colleague to check your gestures aren’t distracting.
- The camera may be on you even though someone else is speaking, so react appropriately—for example, if you disagree with what someone else is saying, shake your head.
What to wear
- Do a dry run of your outfit ahead of time, and sit in front of a mirror before leaving home. Watch for issues such as gaps in your clothing, and proper sock or skirt length.
- Undo your jacket, straighten your tie down the placket of your shirt and make sure your shirt isn’t gaping.
- Some tips on clothing choices:
- Avoid stripes, or patterns with white: They cause the camera image to ‘flare’.
- Avoid turtlenecks, which can make you look like a floating head.
- Don’t wear noisy jewellery, as the sound will be picked up on the microphone.
- Wear a solid-coloured suit, with a white or light-coloured shirt.
- Single-breasted suits work better if you’re sitting.
- Sit on your coattails to keep the fabric around your shoulders from creeping up.
- Keep your arms by your sides or in front of your torso. Avoid hugging your body in any way, and resist the temptation to place your hands in your pockets.
- Try placing one foot slightly in front of the other to prevent the dreaded side-to-side sway and keep your energy aimed forward and looking engaged.
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor in front of you.
- Sit forward on the front half of the chair. Sitting back and slouching can make you look uninterested and out of proportion.
Do your research
- Make sure you know any relevant facts or figures that you might want to use or you think you could be asked about.
- Research and note your potential target audience and focus on tailoring your message(s) to them.
Practice mock interviews
- Practice your ‘script’ as you would for a speech, with a colleague.
- In a role-playing setting, determine:
- Are your message points coming across?
- Are your answers concise?
- Are your key messages believable or do they need more support?
Preparing responses beforehand
- Controlled communication: It’s especially important to have prepared responses to any difficult questions that you anticipate. This way you can control the message you are trying to share.
Do a final review
- Review content, especially statistics, before you go ‘live’ to ensure they are still relevant.
- Creating a checklist for a final review can be very helpful.
Focus eyes and ears
- Where to look? If you can see the person asking the questions, only look at them. If you can’t see the person asking the questions, only look at the camera.
- Be prepared for distractions in the studio.
- There will be a monitor showing the programme you are about to appear on, and you will be able to see yourself! Be prepared for this and don’t be drawn to it.
- Listen to any instructions, listen to the programme as it goes out before you (as you may well be asked about the contents of the news item before you), and listen to the questions. Block out anything else!
The camera is always on
- The camera – and microphones – are always on, and they’re always on you.
- The audience can see you before the interview starts, and when the interviewer is speaking. Don’t grimace in reaction to a question!
- It’s not over until someone tells you that you are “clear”.
Keep to the point
- In a live interview, you might only have 90 seconds on air. Don’t try to say too much.
- An interview is no place to try to win an argument, it’s just a place to put your position.
- The interview will go out live to people who will be doing other things, not taking notes. Keep hitting those key messages to make sure they come through.
Think before you speak
- Avoid verbal placeholders like “um” or “uh”. If you need to pause to think, often a silent pause (which will feel longer to you than to the interviewer) is more effective.
- The more you prepare, the less likely you’ll be to struggle to find the right words.
- Brand awareness
- Thought leadership
- Increased website traffic
- Reputation management
- Analytics and insights
- Targeted marketing
However, there are a few potential disadvantages to using social media, so it’s important to work out what your aims are, and who will be taking charge of your social media strategy.
- Time: It takes a lot of time to manage a social media account,
- Cost: If outsourcing, it will take a lot of money to pay for that time.
- Potential for bad publicity