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Five misconceptions about media training – and what it really involves
December 9, 2020

People have all kinds of funny ideas about what media training is and what it does.  Because at Communicate Media, the niche media and communications training consultancy, we’re humble seekers after truth we’d thought that we’d explode some myths and explain what media training really can offer to organisations and their public relations advisors.

1. It’s about teaching people how not to answer the question.

This is probably the biggest mistake people make when talking about media training.  At the start of all of our media training courses, we make it absolutely clear that in our opinion as working journalists that you can’t ignore the question.  If you do the reporter will assume that you’ve got something to hide and try harder than ever to get an answer. If it’s a broadcast interview the audience would assume the same and won’t trust you. After all, isn’t that why politicians get such a bad write-up?

Instead, we teach people how to answer the question effectively but then to skillfully move the conversation onto a more positive topic for them. This means that they can gain control of the interview.

2. It’s an alternative to public relations

Absolutely not. Our media training sessions compliment the work of public relations and corporate communications professionals. We help to embed them with their clients by backing up their advice and working closely with them to identify new story angles.  We also provide them with a sounding board for ideas as well as enabling them to test their messages in a realistic environment. That’s why we found that many PR companies come to us to do their media training because we’re outsiders who can take a fresh, dispassionate view of the issues that their client is handling.

3. It’s about which colours to wear on TV

Well, yes, that’s part of it but there’s much, much more to media coaching – when we do it anyway.  “Thanks for a great day. We’ve actually rethought our entire marketing and communications strategy,” one client, a mid-sized law firm, told us a couple of weeks ago.  Very often by asking obvious but authentic journalists questions we can test a communications strategy and see where it needs to be improved.  We also look at the language, effective storytelling and the construction of a convincing argument. Media training, if done properly, can also teach psychological techniques used in persuasion, developed by people such as Professor Robert Cialdini, the leading expert on the science of persuading people.  We also find that people who do our courses pick up and polish tips and techniques that are good for general business communications.

4. It’s the last resort of the retired/failed hack.

Ouch!  Well, OK, yes, once upon a time, when media training was in its infancy this might have been true.  Certainly, we’ve had clients who have told us about some media training courses they’ve done in the past which have consisted of a journalist reciting anecdotes and complaining about the way the industry has gone. At Communicate Media we only use working journalists, in other words, reporters, producers, and others who are out in the field doing it for real day-to-day.

5. It’s a scary experience that only really suits extroverts

Scary?  Just a bit.  We certainly aim to stretch people during our media coaching courses.  We’ll test your arguments and your key messages to make sure that they stand up to journalistic scrutiny – and by that, we mean public scrutiny since that’s ultimately who you’re talking to through the journalist. If your language doesn’t sound genuine and convincing then yes, we’ll tell you so. No one likes seeing themselves on camera but it’s an essential part of appreciating how you come across to your audiences and we’ll give you honest but tactful and useful feedback. Is media training just for confident people and extroverts? We’ll guarantee that we will improve your confidence in front of the camera and when talking to the media but you don’t have to be naturally comfortable in the spotlight to be a good media performer.

For example, we trained a well-known fashion retailer at the start of the year and discovered that one of the management team who was quiet and shy was great when it came to briefing press journalists. Having provided plenty of tips and practical advice as we always do we put her through a number of realistic media interviews and she was great.  This particular spokeswoman came across as confident, passionate, articulate, and engaging, telling stories to illustrate her points and taking control of the interview to produce a very positive article.

You’ve probably heard more misconceptions and incorrect ideas about media training than we’ve listed here.   If you want to check them out with us or learn anything more about our media training courses and just get in touch.  We’d be delighted to shed some light on the subject.

Chat to Communicate Media

Our media training courses are realistic, bespoke to your needs, quick to turn around, and cost-effective.

Give us a call on 0800 1777080 or email us: gareth@communicatemedia.com

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