Recently we conducted media training via Zoom for industry development officers of an agricultural peak body.
These people need to be savvy in front of the microphone to convey harvest progress, highlight any issues with growers and generally keep the market informed.
We talked about news values, the importance of key messages, knowing your audience and practiced mock interviews. The participants held ‘at the coalface’ roles; they had some experience conducting interview in their areas of expertise, but all struggled when the questions moved ‘off topic’ or turned to controversial issues.
When a new hire, a person who had just joined the organisation to fill a very senior role, joined the call that things got interesting.
Clearly they had vast experience in handling the media and much of the presentation was ‘Media 101’ for this executive.
By the end of the call however we had identified a range of unresolved issues – both internal and external – that our mock interviews had uncovered.
Fine tune your key messages
Media training provides an opportunity for senior executives to test and refine key messages, particularly for sensitive or controversial issues. Responding to questions in real time and responding in the context of an interview can help ensure you are crystal clear about your key messages. It’s an opportunity to road test your key messages, see if there are any holes or inconsistencies in your arguments and keep your cool when faced with adversarial questioning.
Uncover where you are vulnerable
Every organisation has an Achilles Heel, be it counter arguments from competitors, disgruntled former employees, aggrieved customers, unhappy stakeholders, crusading activists or internal disagreements. Sooner or later these issues will rear their head publicly. Media training can provide the perfect environment for senior executives to road test key messages and highlight where more work needs to be done to get it right. Better to be stumped in media training that to be left looking evasive or argumentative in front of a live microphone.
Practice techniques to control the interview
Every interview is an opportunity for senior executives to deliver the company’s key messages, no matter what questions are asked. Media training allows you to practice steering the interview in the direction you want despite the questions asked by the journalist. Practice bridging techniques like: ‘what’s important here is...’ or ‘what I can tell you is…’ and deliver your key messages. This is not an easy skill to master; it requires subtly to do correctly and can be honed through media training and practice.
Hone your soundbites and quotes
Media training not only allows the senior executive to road test key messages, it’s also an opportunity to finely tune these into media ready sound bites and quotable quotes. Sometimes responding out loud to question, in an interview context, can be the catalyst for the perfect quote. Most people don’t speak in jargon and will get to the point more quickly. Recording the media training interviews means those great quotes can be captured and further refined. You’ll also be able to identify those responses that don’t cut it.
Explore sensitive information confidentially
Sometimes senior executives are privy to highly sensitive information that cannot be shared within a group. Media training provided a confidential environment where these issues can be discussed, the impact on internal and external stakeholders evaluated and company responses stress tested.
Our team are specialists in media training to ensure your key spokespeople get the most of every media opportunity and how to control even the most difficult interviews.