4 Simple Ways to Get More from Media Training
Media training offers executives the ability to do much more than tell their story. It helps them to tell their story in a way that is interesting to journalists, to their editors, and ultimately to their audiences. If done well, it also helps executives build credibility in their areas of expertise, and position their companies in a positive light.
But working with the media isn’t a game. We see far too many executives making unnecessary and often damaging mistakes during media interviews, perhaps for lack of training. Unfortunately, once an ill-spoken quote is published, it can be very difficult to put it to rest. Remember the quote “All I want is my life back!”? Despite his many career accomplishments, former BP CEO Tony Hayward will long be remembered for this one inappropriate quote during the Gulf oil spill crisis.
Finding and participating in a good media training program is vital for any executive who may interact with the media on behalf of his or her company or organization. Here are 4 simple ways to get more from that training:
1. Prepare Before Training
Before attending media training, identify a reporter that you think you could eventually talk to. Check out his or her LinkedIn profile. Read some of the recent articles this reporter has written. See how much you can learn about the journalist’s beat or interests. Then as you are going through your training, think about this reporter and how you will apply the information you’re learning to that future interview opportunity.
2. Know What You Don’t Know
Executives who understand that working with reporters is outside their ‘wheelhouse’ make the best students. They listen carefully to the media training facilitator, they ask great questions, they participate in role playing and they keep their phones turned off. For these executives, media training works – primarily because they know what they don’t know, making them open to real learning.
3. Stay A Little Uncomfortable
Many executives walk into media training feeling a little uncomfortable. That’s a good thing. Ideally, participants remain at least a little uncomfortable throughout the training session because it motivates them to stay focused. Trainees get too confident too quickly by thinking they’ve gleaned everything of value half way through the training. Unfortunately, this early confidence works against their ability to master important strategies and techniques for professionally managing interviews.
4. Participate Enthusiastically
The best media training programs allow executives to practice interviewing skills through mock interview sessions. This is the time for everyone to park their egos at the door and jump in to learn everything they can about how interviews work, what can go awry, and how to recover and get back on track when they do. When mock interviews are offered, trainees should participate enthusiastically, using the opportunity to get real time feedback from their training coach so they can increase their awareness of the opportunities and pitfalls, and refine their approach.
Media training is important preparation for successful interactions with the media, and journalists appreciate the opportunity to interview credible, well-prepared executives who demonstrate an understanding of their profession. Even though journalists and executives often have different reasons for participating in an interview, good training helps pave the way for a positive outcome.