The Insider's Guide: Understanding the lesser-known Impact of Being Media Trained

Securing media coverage can be tricky.

It can take a lot of work to capture the interest and attention of journalists, podcasters, videographers and film makers.

But, if you are successful, media interviews present a brilliant opportunity to reach a big audience and raise the profile of your organisation.

Media training is crucial for organisations to be able to make the most of that opportunity and use it to their advantage.

But are there other benefits to media training?

What does it mean to be media trained?

Before we get into those hidden gems, let's run through the better-known impacts of media training.

And there are three main ones:

Spokespeople who feel confident, prepared to face the media and able to tell your story

Media appearances can feel daunting.

What happens if the questions asked are tough, and you are unsure how to answer them?

What should you do if you say something you quickly regret to a journalist?

What about if your mind goes blank mid-interview?

How can you properly prepare for an interview?

These are the sorts of questions we are often asked at the start of our media training courses.

Our expert journalist tutors help delegates to overcome these fears and build their confidence.

And they give them the tools to control media interviews and get key messages across successfully.

An effective media training session should also include advice on how to avoid jargon and use your body language properly.

We also pack our courses with lots of mock interviews to enable delegates to practice and test their new skills and knowledge with a reporter.

The result? Your organisation can use the media to attract new customers and communicate with existing ones.


Better understanding of what the media and journalists look for and need

The media world can often feel pretty alien. And the media landscape is constantly evolving.

What does 'newsworthy' even mean? What makes a good news story? How do stories get picked up by reporters?

A media training course should remove the mystery surrounding the news media and ensure spokespeople understand what journalists look for in a media interview.

This knowledge can help spokespeople gain more coverage and airtime for their company - journalists want to speak to interviewees they know will help them tell a good story.

This crucial insider expertise also helps with thinking like a journalist, which can be vital for anticipating awkward questions and understanding what stories and examples will work best.


Navigate the risks

Media interviews present a brilliant opportunity.

But they are not without risks.

It can be easy for spokespeople to get drawn into controversial areas for their business. Or make interview blunders.

And in the modern world, where almost all types of media interviews are recorded, clips of mistakes can be widely shared on social media.

Media training helps spokespeople spot and navigate the potential pitfalls so they don't distract from the message they want to get across and prevent them from communicating effectively.

There is sometimes a perception that media training is about teaching people to avoid answering the difficult questions the journalist asks. You've probably seen or heard politicians adopt that approach.

It is not a method you will learn from a Media First trainer. And it is a tactic that annoys reporters and brings widespread attention to an interview for all the wrong reasons.

Our training teaches spokespeople how to stay focused, control interviews, manage the questions they would rather not face, and answer them convincingly.


Can media training provide other benefits?

Can a media training course help with other aspects of communication?

Can it help delegates communicate effectively in other areas of their work?

Well, yes.

Transferable skills

The skills and techniques learnt during a media training course don’t just help with talking to a press journalist or when giving a TV or radio interview.

It is something we hear from our clients and delegates all the time.

They tell us how these skills help them in boardroom meetings, client meetings, and even to answer questions from colleagues or stakeholders.

Additionally, appearing in front of cameras and microphones is no longer restricted to media events.

Many companies increasingly use video, webinars, live streaming and online masterclasses as part of internal and external communication strategies.

More organisations are also turning to podcasts as part of their public relations strategies. We would recommend spokespeople have specific training for podcasts. But some skills and media training tips offered during our courses are relevant for this format.


What else?

Shine a light on comms

Media training is an excellent way of improving relationships between comms and public relations teams and senior leaders.

Our courses reinforce the importance of the comms team's role and shine a light on the challenges they face.

It increases awareness among executives - and other spokespeople - of the work that goes into creating proactive media opportunities and navigating the evolving media landscape.

We often stress the importance of comms and PR professionals being viewed as experts in their company and having a seat at the top table.

Comms teams often observe our media training. And it is a brilliant way of demystifying their work.

Improved understanding helps build trust. And should prevent spokespeople from questioning why that high-profile radio interview has to happen at 6am.


Top team bonding

You don't need to tackle an escape room or solve a murder mystery to bring your team closer together.

We're often told media training is a great team-building exercise.

The testing, yet supportive, format brings people together away from the day-to-day distractions of the office and creates an opportunity to focus on refining strategies, develop ideas and key messages, and brainstorm.

It can ensure team members are focused on the same priorities. It can identify those with stories that best explain your product, service or campaign.


Problems on the horizon?

Our current working journalists prepare thoroughly before they deliver their courses.

They carry out detailed research on the companies they work with.

And they often uncover areas that may not play out well in the media.

That could be issues around executive pay, business practices, diversity and inclusion or sustainability, to give a few examples. It could even be a senior leader's thoughts on an issue impacting the sector or government policy.

Identifying these issues - and potentially exploring them in a practice media interview - can help prevent them from later turning into a crisis or public relations disaster.


Test your messages

Media training is an excellent way of developing and refining messages for your audience.

Companies have been known to spend thousands developing messages, only to find they are not particularly media-friendly. Or that they unravel under scrutiny.

Media training enables those messages to be tested in a safe environment.

It can also unearth better examples and brilliant stories that make them more engaging and ensure they resonate.


Raise your profile

There is no better way for business leaders to raise their profile and showcase knowledge and thought leadership than through giving regular media interviews.

It’s the executives who get involved in the media conversation who are usually perceived as industry experts.

Once they have given a good interview, journalists will want to speak to them again and again. Yes, they have extensive contacts. But often, they are up against demanding headlines and will quickly want to speak to someone they know will add value to the story.

The confidence gained from interviews can also help with other media activities, like writing op-eds, as they have a better idea of what journalists - and their audience - want.


Story pipeline

Stories happen all the time.

But many are missed and don't end up in the public eye because people are unsure whether they are newsworthy or lack the confidence to talk to a reporter.

We find that media training empowers people to look for potential news stories in their organisation.

They have a better idea of what will grab the attention of a journalist and the process of getting those stories to them.


Can media training help with delivering a presentation?

Media training can help you deliver a speech or presentation and improve your eye contact, avoid jargon, communicate with clarity, and enhance your body language.

It can also help with how you support key messages.

The biggest crossover is in answering questions. The tools and techniques learnt during media training courses will help you deal with audience questions and avoid them becoming a distraction.

And help maintain focus on the message you want to communicate.

But the best way to improve presentation skills is through our presentation skill straining.


What about crisis communication?

Similarly, there is an overlap between media training and crisis communication, particularly around managing tough questions from journalists and handling a hostile interview.

But effective crisis communication is about ensuring an organisation is properly prepared for when the worst happens and can respond quickly and reassure customers, stakeholders and employees.


Click here to join us next week for a free crisis comms webinar

Would you know how to handle the media when crisis strikes? How can you get ahead of the game to help you respond quickly and effectively? Our experts will answer these questions and more during a free webinar on Wednesday 26 June at 2pm

Want to know more about the benefits of media training?

The benefits of media training are vast.

We believe it also helps leaders develop empathy skills, make media interview briefings easier and help organisations identify their strongest content.

Chat with us about how bespoke, journalist-led media training could help you.


Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 35 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers. 

Click here to find out more about our media training.

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Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 30 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers.

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