What is Media Training?
Media training is used to instruct employees of organizations how to interact with the news media and how to gain positive media coverage for their organizations. It typically is provided to employees of communications departments and to managers, executives and other organizational representatives who might be tasked with speaking to the press. The ultimate goal of media training is to improve the communications skills of employees who speak with the news media to help organizations better control and protect their reputations.
Media training seeks to enhance the accuracy of coverage that an organization receives. It teaches participants how to clarify organizational messages and how to make key points smoothly. It advises participants about how much detail to provide to the media, how to speak more concisely and how to stay focused on the desired message. Media training helps participants understand the audiences that they are addressing and how to provide appropriate information for those audiences.
A major goal of media training is to make participants more relaxed and confident when speaking to the press. It seeks to make them feel in control during interview situations. Some of the items that might be covered during training include the appropriate length of answers, how to deflect uncomfortable questions, how participants should respond if they don’t know the answers to questions, how to reinforce key messages and more. Training sessions often involve role playing and videotaped, simulated interviews.
Training is available for specific types of media interviews, such as television, radio and print. It might cover such things as what to wear for television interviews and how to sit for cameras. It might remind participants not to forget that microphones are on, so they should not say anything that might be considered inappropriate. Things such as how to be concise in timed television and radio interviews while still getting messages across might be discussed. The best ways to field unexpected questions in live environments also is one of the things that might be taught in media training.
Media training might also focus on presentation skills and how to do slide presentations. It might discuss how to properly organize content on slides, how to make them visually appealing and how to time the discussion of each slide. Other items such as not reading directly from the slides and how to use bullet points as prompts might be discussed.
Sometimes organizations bring in outside companies to conduct media training. Other organizations have media relations experts in their own communications organizations conduct the training. Media training might be conducted on a one-on-one basis or in group classes, depending on the organization.
Companies should be allowed to release the information they deem necessary, and this should include "no comment." We still have free speech and a company should be allowed to refuse to comment, without being harassed by the media.
It seems like some media people want to twist people's words to say what they didn't say, and that's not right. I'm not surprised spokespersons are trained in the way to handle the media. It's necessary.
The first rule for media training ought to be that stonewalling reporters is not a great strategy. Tell them something. This is because reporters are suspicious people and circling the wagons, to a reporter, means the company is hiding something. Therefore, the next logical step is to start looking down the company's back trails to see what that something might be.
Media reps should be trained to give out at least a few facts. Stonewalling just makes a good reporter start digging harder. It never works for long, and usually ends up in even more damning or embarrassing facts being uncovered.
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