Conducting media interviews remains a cornerstone activity for every enterprise communications program. While the best spokespeople make these exchanges look effortless, it takes considerable investments in strategy, messaging and – above all – preparation. Here are five reasons why media training is so important:
1. Align the Company’s Message
Media training forces spokespeople to align the company’s messaging. Ensuring that everyone whose role requires them to address industry or financial analysts, media, bloggers and other influencers tells the same story can be challenging. Each spokesperson approaches an interview with a unique perspective on the corporate story; media training provides an opportunity to ensure that everyone’s talking points map back to the overarching corporate message.
2. Avoid Discussing Unnecessary Information
Media training teaches spokespeople that analyzing the moments when it is best not to speak is essential, too. In media interviews, silence does not always feel golden. Media-trained spokespeople know they don’t have to fill the silence or feel a need to keep the conversation going. Our advice is “get in, state your message and get out.” Let the reporter absorb the information and ask follow-up questions to get more detail. Many rookie spokespeople make the mistake of “over explaining;” going into too much detail runs the risk of confusing the reporter, and also, opens the spokesperson up to sharing information that is non-public, speculative or flat-out inaccurate.
3. Prepare for Difficult Questions
Media training prepares executives for the tough questions. While media training ensures that spokespeople are in alignment on key messages, it’s just as important to arm them with techniques that help them get out of a sticky situation. Valuable trainers will ask the questions that a company hopes their spokespeople never face, practice answers, along with bridging and blocking techniques to redirect the conversation. The ability to handle hostile or leading questions directly ensures spokespeople are not misquoted in resulting coverage.
4. Managing Negative Press
Media training prepares clients for a crisis. As communicators, we pray our clients never face a crisis, but if and when they do, it’s vital to have company representatives who are able to face the media with clear, concise statements on not only the specific actions the company is taking to address a situation – regardless of whether it’s to correct a product flaw, address a competitive threat or solve a public safety issue. Speed and accuracy are critical to mitigating damage to the brand.
5. Using Nonverbal Communication to Your Advantage
Media training shows the importance of nonverbal communication. It’s not enough to keep your body language open and make eye (or camera) contact with the interviewer. Media trainers can help spokespeople practice using gestures for emphasis in a way that comes off as natural, and they also can point out visual or verbal tics that can detract from the spokesperson’s delivery. Nonverbal communication becomes more important in broadcast interviews, however, it’s also incredibly valuable in forging a trusted relationship between a source and reporter.
Allowing your staff to have access to the proper methods and skills through media training, ensures that they are able to face difficult questions, focus the message, and use nonverbal communication to their advantage. All of this amasses to a trusted spokesperson who is willing and able to represent the company in the best light.