Can you succinctly describe what your company does or stands for in a few sentences? Can everyone in your organization do this? Could you (or other stakeholders) confidently handle a media interview?
If you can’t answer these questions with a resounding “yes,” then a media/message training session is a must. And don’t limit the training only to those who plan to speak to the media. In today’s society where social media allows anyone to be a “reporter,” it’s important for all stakeholders to be prepared – and on the same page – to share the appropriate key messaging.
The importance of Media/Messaging Training
Sure, you may know your product or be an expert in your industry. Or maybe you’ve taken a presentation training course. But how you share these messages with the media can be very different. Media/messaging training focuses on:
- Developing easy-to-communicate key messages
- Learning how to stay on message when you’re being challenged
- Conducting yourself in an interview setting
Plus, these types of sessions will help you and your team learn techniques to communicate your key messages (no matter what the reporter asks) and tips to get camera ready, including:
- Representing your brand in the best way to raise awareness and generate positive news stories
- Learning about the media industry and how to best work with reporters
- Being more confident (especially in front of the camera or live media situations)
And, even if you never take part in an interview, media and message training is a tool to become a better communicator in your professional and personal life.
Here are just a few media interview tips that we suggest:
Tip 1 – Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes
- Ask yourself “why should an audience care about the message I’m delivering?” “What’s in it for them?” lf your company is the first to launch a product that’s new to the industry, that’s a great opportunity. Or maybe you have a valuable perspective on some industry issue that readers or viewers of particular media will find interesting. Focus on what others find interesting, and not solely on what you want them to know about you.
Tip 2 – Know the story you want to tell, and tell it often
- There are three main opportunities you’ll have for getting your story out.
- Opening with key messages
- Bridging to them during the interview
- And wrapping up the interview with a summary of your main points – the things you want the reporter to walk away knowing for sure
Tip 3 – Paint an accurate picture
- Often times we’ll work with clients who say “the reporter misquoted me” or “didn’t get the story right.” What likely happened is the messaging was unclear during the interview and key messages were not strongly communicated. The responsibility of an interviewee is to make sure the reporter leaves the interview getting the story right. Being “misquoted” is less likely to happen if you rehearse and plan your message.
Tip 4 – Get outside your comfort zone. Practice, practice, practice
- At Falls, we start and end all media training sessions with on-camera interviews. This allows us to test your skills in a more realistic (albeit nerve-wracking and intense) interview environment. However, it also allows participants to see their verbal and non-verbal tendencies, as well as test their newly learned skills during the second round.
Even after a training session, it shouldn’t end there. The best advice for perfecting your message delivery is to practice often – at home, in the mirror or home videos. The more confident and prepared, the better the interview you'll give. In fact, many of our clients host annual sessions to gear up for big tradeshows or to keep their skills sharp.
Need help perfecting your key messages or preparing your team for media interviews? We’d love to help. Email us to set up a session!