Media training isn’t something that most people think about very often. When you want to grow business or achieve some amazing goal, you don’t usually consider dealing the media. If you have these types of goals, chances are that you dream about the money, the fame. You might even dream about getting to help other people, or making the world a better place. But the reality is, if you want to be successful, you need to draw the right kind of attention. And this means that you need to deal with the media.
This isn’t as easy as it may sound either. Talking to the media is a form of public speaking that’s even less forgiving than standing on a stage. After all, there’s a chance that your interview will go online, where pretty much the whole world can watch and critique it. That’s why you need to think about your approach to the media before you actually go out in front of the cameras or talk to a reporter. Developing your skills in this area early, and practicing as often as you can, means that when you finally do find success you will be ready and able to make a great impression in front of the cameras. And that can only benefit the success of your business.
Media training will help you do that. It’s a form of public relations where you’re taught how to deal with media, the best ways to convey critical information, and how to cope with probing and sometimes dangerous questions. Once you’ve gone through media training, you will have the skills, the knowledge and the confidence to make a good impression in interviews. You will also learn how to be a salesperson with the media, in the most positive sense of the word, and how to avoid obvious problems and traps.
Do you have to deal with the media in your current position? How do you think your future business plans would be impacted if you had some media skills?
Who is Media Training for?
Media training is most often thought about in connection with business tycoons, celebrities and entrepreneurs, but the truth is that the skills will help anyone who wants to own a business or just needs more publicity. The primary aims of media training are to teach you to make a good impression in front of the press and to convey information succinctly. So if you want to garner attention to grow your business, or advance your career goals, this is the way to do it.
Media training is even more important in today’s technology driven world. Everyone is connected, which means that no matter who you are or where you are, your words and actions could travel across the world in a matter of moments. As Hollywood scandals have taught everyone, the effects of these indiscretions can be serious and ongoing for individuals and for companies. So if you have a job that includes any amount of publicity, or think it might become relevant in the future, media training is probably a good idea.
Why You Need Media Training
Media training will teach you more than how to pose well in front of a camera. Interviews in front of the media can be complex and complicated, which is why this training is so important. Some of the things you will learn in media training classes include:
Better public speaking
Most people need to improve their public speaking skills and their communication skills. This will not only help your interactions with the media, it will also improve your relationships in countless ways. This type of work usually includes improving both your verbal skills and your non-verbal skills such as body language.
How to draw and keep attention
There’s no point talking if you can’t hold people’s attention. This may seem like a basic skill, but in reality there are a lot of things that determine how well you can grab and hold other people’s attention. This includes how you use your voice, your stance, the words you use, the colors you wear, and any visual aids you have.
Increase your verbal clarity
English speakers tend to naturally waffle when they talk. If you really listen, you’ll notice lots of filler words, discourse markers, and expressions that don’t make a lot of sense if you aren’t a native speaker. So when you’re speaking to the media, you have to make sure that you eliminate these verbal fillers so that everyone can understand you. This is part of the work you will do in media training, working to reduce these distracting words that take away from the central meaning.
How to prepare for and answer difficult questions
You need to be able to answer difficult questions calmly, quickly and easily. And you have to be able to answer without revealing more than you mean to, or losing control of the interview. This takes practice, good advice and a bit of foresight about what the press is likely to ask you. Your media training will give you all of that.
Learn to keep control during the interview
When you walk into a press interview, you have an agenda, things you want to communicate. But if you lose control, you could find the interview going off on pointless tangents. Or even worse, you could find yourself traveling down roads you don’t want to discuss. That’s why it’s important that you learn how to stay in control during your interviews. This means understanding how to redirect the interview subtly if it’s going in the wrong direction. And you can learn this by watching the experts do it successfully and with grace.
Learning all these skills and more through media training will vastly improve your confidence the next time you have to talk in front of the media. And that will ensure that you make a better impression on everyone involved.
Important Elements of Media Training
When you’re looking for a media training course there are a few things you should keep in mind. Besides teaching you how to communicate more effectively and how to answer questions, the training should teach you less tangible skills that are just as important if not more so. These skills include:
How to Build Relationships
You can’t just walk into a press interview and expect them to believe or trust you without evidence. That’s why you need to learn how to build relationships. If you’re in business for a while, or plan to be, chances are that you will interact with the media on a regular basis. That’s why you need to learn to build solid relationships with reporters, relationships that are based on mutual benefits and trust.
Being comfortable in interviews
If you’re uncomfortable in an interview you will make other people uncomfortable as well. That’s why media training will give you lots of opportunities to experience being interviewed, so you can get comfortable with the idea and learn to put the other person at ease too.
Targeting your approach
There’s nothing worse than a blanket advertisement that is designed to appeal to everyone and ends up appealing to no one. And if you approach every interview in the same way, you will end up alienating the reporters and by extension the people who might be interested in your business. Tailoring your approach means adapting to the interview style of the reporter, to the publication or company they work for, and to the interest of their particular consumers. That gives you the best chance of giving them the information the individual reporters want and need to write a great article. And that will benefit everyone.
Dealing with media events
A big part of media training is media events. Depending on what industry you’re in, you might have to deal with trade shows, conventions or exhibitions. That’s why you need to learn the different structures of these events and the press exposure associated with each one.
What to Expect from Media Training
If you decide to take a media training course, you need to understand that it won’t be easy. A big part of media training is learning to be a better communicator, how to be honest and how to put the best parts of you forward in public. A lot of people have trouble with these types of skills and ideas. They don’t like the idea of bragging about themselves, or about their business, and don’t like to make themselves the center of attention. If you have these types of worries, you will have to learn to overcome them if you want to succeed in media training classes and in business.
To help you with that, here’s what you can expect from media training courses:
Work to take home
No, you can’t do an hour class once a week and expect massive change. Media training means learning a lot of new skills and communication styles and this means you will have to do work outside of the classroom too. Some of these exercises will probably make you uncomfortable or nervous at first. But that’s completely normal, and learning to cope with these negative feelings is a good reason on its own to undertake media training.
Learning to answer tough questions
One of the most important and the most feared tasks of the reporter is to ask uncomfortable questions. This is often how they get their story, the questions give them the meat behind the planned comments and information. But these types of questions can be extremely disconcerting and even stir up negative emotions. That’s why a part of your media training will be dedicated to answering the tough questions. You will learn how to look at your own story and business to predict what hard questions you will be asked in interview. And you’ll practice being blindsided by a question, and how to answer in a way that doesn’t cause damage or embarrassment to your business or to the business persona you’re trying to create.
Training in front of a camera
If you haven’t spent much time in front of a camera, you probably don’t know how constraining it can feel. Throughout your media training you will have to get used to being on camera. But more than that, you will also learn the value of watching yourself. Taping your speeches and watching them later can give you a unique bird’s eye view. You will notice mannerisms you didn’t know you had, and areas for improvement that you probably never considered. This is one of the most valuable tools you can use to evaluate and improve your public speaking skills, and you will learn to use it well in your media training.
How to Find the Best Media Training
Because the world is so connected these days, people are starting to realize just how valuable media training is. As a result, lots of schools and training centers have sprung up promising to give comprehensive and effective training in dealing with the press. This means that you will have a lot of choice when you decide to improve your skills in this area. But it also means that you’re at risk of being ripped off, or of choosing a course that doesn’t suit your needs or your requirements from a media training course. To help you avoid those issues, here are some guidelines to follow when you’re choosing a media training provider:
Ask for recommendations from people in your business
You probably already have contacts in your field who can be of help here. If you know someone who does a lot of media work, and like their manner in front of the camera, ask them if they’ve had training. Chances are that they can recommend a trainer, or at least point you in the right direction.
Ask a media training center for the names of previous clients
Before you hand over your money, ask the trainer or training center if you can contact previous clients. This can sometimes be a little difficult, as this type of training involves confidentiality issues, but getting a recommendation from a previous client can be one of the best ways to set your mind at ease about the value of the training you’re about to pay for.
Does the training include everything you need?
Evaluate your training needs carefully before you choose a course. There’s no point choosing a course that focuses exclusively on in-person interviews if you do your interviews over the telephone. Make sure your chosen course covers a wide range of media situations.
What is the trainer’s media experience?
As with most things, you need to know that your trainer has the experience to teach you. Academic credentials may help a bit with this, but mostly you need to know that they’ve interacted with the media themselves. If your trainer has a good relationship with the press, one that’s based on mutual benefits, chances are that they can help you build the same.
A Guide to Dealing with the Media
Media training can teach you lots of strategies for dealing with the media. However, there’s always more to learn and remember. Some of the most valuable techniques are the small things, the ones that might get forgotten in the rush of information and strategy. The following ideas will help you always make a good impression in front of the media:
No matter what happens, you must stay calm. Everyone has seen that footage, where a celebrity or media personality lost their temper and started shouting at the journalist. This doesn’t do anything but make the shouter look foolish, childish and ridiculous. And not only does this look bad, but if you lose your temper you’re more likely to say things you don’t mean. And then your message will be lost. So take a deep breath and keep calm no matter what.
Stick to the facts
Don’t be tempted to waffle. If you’re nervous, it can be tempting to fill any gaps or pauses with talk. This not only looks unprofessional, it also increases the chances that you’ll say something you shouldn’t. So if you’re nervous, make sure you stick to the facts. Try to erase any emotional words, pleas or comments from your speech and be very factual. This may make you seem a little detached, but it will ensure that all the important things get said.
Take your time
Everyone rushes these days. Whether it’s the media or just people in general, everything is quick and hurry and not much time. This can make you feel pressured and anxious, particularly if you’re already under pressure. Ignore the time crunches, slow down and speak clearly. Trying to cram everything in will only confuse your message. So if you’re short on time, make sure you say the essentials first and let the rest get cut if necessary.
Use short sentences (they make better quotes)
Short sentences make better quotes. Whether your media appearance is going to be on television, in a newspaper, or online, there will be limits to the amount of space your story can take up. You have a much better chance of getting your actual words into that limited space if your sentences are short and snappy.
Be honest (but thoughtful)
Never lie in an interview. You’re probably being recorded in some way, so if you lie, there will be a permanent record of it. Be honest, but thoughtful at the same time. This means considering other people’s feelings and the constraints of both your role and good taste.
Remember that everything is on the record
This continues from the last point. You’ve probably watched a lot of movies that included scenes between a reporter and an informant. In those scenes, informants often claim that their comments are ‘off the record’. This may act like a magic spell in the movies, but it doesn’t always work in real life. You can never be sure if the reporter is going to honor your words or not. After all, it’s not like there’s a written contract preventing your words from being used. If you say it in an interview, chances are it will be used, so be careful.
If you want to be successful in business, you need to promote your business and let other people know what you’re doing. And this usually means utilizing the media, letting them spread the word about your products or your brands. This can be an intimidating idea. After all, it’s a form of public speaking where you will get asked questions that are probably designed to trip you up. So if you walk into the situation with no real idea of what you’re doing or the best way to go about it, things could go downhill extremely quickly. This is where media training comes in. It can give you the skills you need to handle the media with poise, good humor, professionalism, and a touch of style.
Have you ever had to deal with the media? How did it go? Share your good or bad stories with us in the comments below.