It seems as if everyone is so focused on mastering new media techniques these days, we’re forgetting to invest in the basics.
Media training is continuously needed by executives, clients and even for us public relations practitioners, and it’s something that should be written into your budget each year.
1. It’s a great opportunity to explain how the media works. Most public relations practitioners have been in the position where they’ve been challenged with the unrealistic expectations of management or clients who don’t get it. Media training is a great forum to explain how newsrooms operate, what makes something newsworthy and provide more insight into the news cycle. It’s also an ideal time to explain why “no comment” is never an option.
2. You are never as prepared for a crisis as you think you are. When was the last time you took a look at your crisis communication plan? Better yet, when was the last time you actually practiced it? I’m betting it’s been at least a year, if not longer. Maybe you don’t even have a crisis plan, which is a whole other blog post entirely. The point is, you’re never as prepared for a crisis as you could be and you have to keep working on those skills so you can react appropriately when you need to. Media training can help identify everyone’s roles in a crisis, while also allowing everyone to practice keeping composure and staying on message.
3. People remain unaware of their mannerisms and bad habits. No one knows they say “like” as much as they think they do until they are forced to watch themselves on camera. Media training allows people to become more aware of the distracting things they do without even realizing it. Maybe it’s pulling on clothing or flipping hair or shifting weight back and forth–but we all have something we subconsciously do in conversation. Heck, some people freeze in front of a camera entirely. Isn’t that something you’d rather know about your clients sooner, rather than later? Media training can help you identify these habits so they can be corrected.
4. To build trust. Hosting media training allows you, as PR counsel, to reiterate your position as a subject matter expert. The nature of media training requires the trainees’ vulnerability, and that creates a platform to build trust in the relationship between you and your clients or the C-Suite.
5. Conversation skills are a dying art. I was at a Public Relations Society of America chapter event a few months ago where the Director of Communications for my alma mater made a really good point–people don’t have the ability to have conversations these days. Forget the bigger concept of communications as a profession, our society has become so digital, it’s a challenge for two people to even sit down at a dinner table and talk about their days. Media training is the perfect refresher for basic communication principles like eye contact, body language and sincerity.
Media training is an investment, but one with a definite return. I encourage you to allocate resources to make sure you, your team, your executives and your clients are prepared for the day when it comes. You won’t regret it.
Have you ever hosted media training sessions with clients or executives? What did you think?