Media Training Made Easy for the Mainstream
I recently was meeting with a client for an upcoming media training session, when she said something that hit home with me. I remembered her from a media training event I had done a several months ago for a sister organization to the one she’s the volunteer President for. I asked her why I was chosen to do the training for her group. Her reply was one that I’ve never considered, although I’ve been doing media training for almost a decade.
She said I made her and the others “feel safe” at the previous session. She said media training is stressful on people, because they have to do interviews on camera and nobody wants to fail in front of their peers. She said I set the tone to make people feel safe, allowing them to do their best in the interview portion. It’s a comment I take pride in and won’t forget.
Perhaps that’s why my online media training series has been a success. People can learn how to face the news media without being scrutinized by others. If you don’t know about this online form of media training, here’s how it works.
Bulletproof Your Brand
Over the years, people who need to learn how to deal with the media have asked me if I offer one-on-one training. It was really something I didn’t do because it was difficult for me to provide the training at a price that worked for the client. That’s why I developed the video series.
It’s a series of five videos that anyone can watch, after paying a fee of $50. They run a total of just under 90 minutes. The videos can be watched at anytime and a buyer can watch certain portions again to help brush up for a media interview. I include an e-version of my book The Honest Spin Doctor as an incentive.
The video series is aimed at anyone who needs to speak to the news media. It could be somebody who needs to interact with the media as part of their job or new position with an industry association, or a person who already deals with the media, but wants to get some additional tips.
Another potential audience includes those who want to learn a new skill in case they need to use it down the road. It also really helps with overall communication, because many of the same techniques I talk about in the series can be transferred to the workplace. As an example, knowing what to say before you say it, which I teach during the media series, can apply to any situation, whether it be in the workplace or at home.
Here’s What’s You’ll Find Online
Video 1 - Rules of Media Engagement
This video will discuss the things you need to know before dealing with the news media. You can learn why the media covers some stories and not others, understand why it’s important to respond to media interview requests and learn why so little of what you say to a reporter will ever end up on air or in print. This video also shows you how to ensure you say the right things at the right time. If you know how the media works your chances of success are much higher.
Video 2 - Proper Preparation for a Media Interview
This video lays out my proven five-step process for preparing for media interviews. Better preparation leads to a better interview. The video shows how to develop great sound bites that the media will use and shows why knowing what to say before you say it will make you much better in any media situation. Hard work before the interview will give you more confidence when the interview begins.
Video 3 - Delivering a Great Media Interview
Now that you have prepared, you need to deliver a great interview. This video teaches you how to answer questions from reporters with the answers you want to give and stay on message. I show you several valuable tips to do a better interview, including ways to use your hands, eye contact and posture. This video also includes role-play activities to show you, not just tell you, how to do a great interview.
Video 4 - Dealing With Difficult Reporters
Most interviews you do with reporters won't cause you much difficulty once you know how to do the interview, but every once in awhile you will run into an aggressive reporter, or a difficult topic. This video shows you how to handle challenging interviews - how to stand your ground and give the answers you want to give and not the answers reporters are hoping you will give. Once again role-playing is used to show you exactly how to do it properly.
Video 5 - Getting Your Story To the Media and the World
There will be times when you have a story to tell. You will issue a news release, hold a news conference, or have a project or event you want publicized. These are times you want the media coverage more than the media wants to talk to you. This video shows how to use some best practices to get the exposure you want. It also looks at ways you can use you own social media channels to gain exposure. More often that ever before organizations need to "become the media" to get their story covered through social media, because there are fewer reporters due to media cutbacks.
A Safe Learning Environment
I would like to conclude with the client’s comment about providing a “safe” environment during media training. I hadn’t really thought about people feeling safe as they did the interview portion, but I always have tried to make them comfortable. I feel people learn much better when they’re relaxed. There’s a difference between feeling challenged and being threatened.
A few years ago, a client recited a story about doing media training when she worked for a bank. She said it was the job of the media trainer to try to make some people cry, because the bank felt it would “toughen them up” for when the time came that they needed to do a difficult interview with the media. I’ve thought about that from time to time and wondered why anyone would do that. What’s the point? I think if people can learn what they should do and then see themselves doing it, they have more confidence when they do face the media, even if it’s a difficult subject.
Although the video series does not provide on-camera experience, it does contain a couple of role-playing interviews I did with Edmonton photographer Crystal Puim. The interviews show how a person who takes the time to anticipate the questions they’re going to get and then knows what they’re going to say in response, can be effective when they face the media. It’s clearly not the same thing as offered during an in-person media training session, but then again, even that mock on-camera interview during media training isn’t the same thing as facing a real reporter.
I’m proud of the video product that’s been created. It took a lot of work and I learned a great deal doing it. I think anyone who needs to speak to the media can learn a great deal from it, or at least enough to make it worth their investment of time and money.