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We live in a world where news travels faster than ever before.
24 hour news channels and the rise of social media have combined to ensure that news is constantly ‘breaking’.
For organisations this presents both opportunities and risks – there are more opportunities for positive media coverage but, on the other side, bad news can be broadcast almost immediately.
The result is that media training has never been more important.
But there are a lot of media training courses out there and they’ve not all been created equally.
So how do you find the best?
Ask for endorsements and recommendations
If you think you may have found a potential media training partner, it’s worth finding out what others make of their service before you make a commitment. Why not ask to speak with some of their clients? If they refuse – back away.
How active is the media training provider on social media – do they offer professional advice for free?
This is a great place to look to ensure that you approve of their thinking. Does the advice they issue look professional and well thought out?
A well promoted and regularly updated media training blog will be a great help once the training has taken place as your delegates will benefit from continuous professional development and on-going media tips and guides.
If they aren’t participating on social media it is worth asking why. After all, surely, they would encourage your organisation to be active.
Do they offer telephone print interviews as part of the course?
You may have seen reports that newspaper circulations are falling. You may have even heard rumours that print is dead.
Yet despite this, newspapers continue to be influential and they remain the most common way most people interact with the media.
That’s why print interviews remain an integral part of media training.
Courses that include an off-site telephone journalist are particularly beneficial. Not only will this add to the realism – most print interviews now take place over the phone - but it will also ensure that delegates are interviewed by a new voice – someone they have not built any rapour with – and someone that has a different interview style and agenda to the onsite trainers you’ve been working with during the day.
Can they offer radio and television studio experience?
Appearing on television or radio can be a hugely daunting experience – even for the most experienced and senior of communicators.
There’s nothing in your normal working life which prepares you for it, regardless of whether you are appearing in a studio or taking part in an outside broadcast.
If you think your spokespeople are likely to be interviewed in a studio in the real world then you need a media training course that can offer that experience as part of the package, so that they feel able to deliver messages with clarity, consistency and confidence under pressure.
How many delegates will there be on a course?
If you are investing in media training you don’t want your participants to find they spend much of the course watching others being interviewed.
The best training courses are fast-paced and realistic and put spokespeople through a range of interview scenarios, while giving tutors plenty of time for coaching and mentoring.
There are definite advantages to watching your colleagues being put under pressure but nothing beats being interviewed yourself. In our experience courses work best with a ratio of one journalist tutor to three participants.
Relevant sector experience
Most journalists are generalists. This means that they have a working knowledge of most sectors.
But if you are investing in media training there are times when you really want to be put through your paces by someone with a detailed understanding of your sector, its issues and vulnerabilities. This is particularly true if you are preparing your spokespeople for trade interviews where they will be more likely to bump into journalists with in-depth knowledge of your sector.
Journalist tutors with extensive experience of covering your sector will ensure your spokespeople get the most out of their training.
How large a training team does your provider have?
It can be really hard to find a suitable date for a media training course, particularly if you are looking to train a senior leadership team with all their conflicting demands.
So, there is nothing more frustrating than having a course cancelled at short notice because the tutor becomes ill.
Providers with access to a wide range of tutors greatly reduce the chances of this happening and are usually more able to offer a wide range of dates for training, which can suit the diaries your senior leaders.
How bespoke is the training?
There is no one-size-fits all approach to media interviews so why settle for that approach to media training?
The best providers will spend time with you way before the training day to fully understand your organisation’s needs, requirements and aspirations.
That includes identifying exactly the type of interviews that your spokespeople need to practice. That means more than just ‘TV interviews’ – it means live, pre-recorded, down-the-line, green screen, outside broadcast, on the sofa, soundbite, debating, round table and many more.
This information should then be used to shape your training day to ensure it is the very best use of your time and money.
How else can the media training company support you?
The best media training courses allow the tutors to focus purely on delivering the training.
Catering requirements, accessibility, technology and interview recording can all provide unwanted distractions.
The best courses will have a team that takes care of the administration aspects of the training and provide technicians to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day – freeing up the tutor to provide a first class course and detailed, individual feedback.
What post course feedback will the training company provide?
A good media training course doesn’t stop at the end of the training day.
There is a lot to take in during a full day of training, so detailed written tutor feedback on each participant is imperative.
But that feedback should also be viewed alongside videos of interviews which happened on the course.
Of course, you and your delegates will not want to risk those videos being shared on social media –and few offices now have access to DVD players – so you need to ensure your provider offers a completely secure and easy-to-use video sharing platform.
If your training took place a while before you need to carry out interviews for real, your spokespeople may feel the need for a quick refresher and a little more advice. Does your provider offer free advice for delegates after their media training course?
Are you reassured by how confidential the process will be?
During media training courses you may want your spokespeople to face questions on sensitive issues you do not necessarily want to appear in the media, or perhaps discuss the launch of a product which cannot yet be discussed publically.
It is very important therefore that your trainer offers a confidentiality agreement which covers tutors, technicians and anyone else who may have worked on the course.
It is also worth checking that your provider has all the necessary business insurances in place to ensure you are fully protected.
Why not get in touch with one of our account managers to see how our training can help you and your business.
"The media training course I attended gave me a great insight into how the media works and how to handle an interview successfully. It has also given me the confidence and knowledge to understand how useful the media can be in order to engage with patients. It is a great way to communicate to a mass audience to ensure everyone has access to the information they need about our services”