What Is Media Training? / by Ely Anne Vedar

Media training is a specialized form of communications training that helps media-facing individuals to anticipate reporter behavior, avoid common traps, and confidently focus on their messaging.

It is NOT about lying to the press and others but rather preps the interviewee to maintain poise, calm and anticipate important questions.

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A little media training goes a long way, and is something you should consider as an investment in yourself and your brand(s).

In the meantime, here are 5 tips for your next interview that will leave the best impression with the media and help ensure that the final interview whether it be in print, audio, podcast and/film be beneficial for your brand.

1) Make a plan for your interview. What would you like to see in the resulting media coverage? What two or three key messages do you want to relay? If you go into an interview and just answer the questions you’re asked without a thought for what it is you want the audience to know, you are yielding total control of the interview to the journalist. You need to be prepared by knowing in advance what your own goals are for the interview.

2) Be aggressive and make sure the question you want to be asked is asked, even if you have to ask it yourself. Don’t wait until the reporter asks you the question you want to answer. The question might never come. Instead, use another question to segue into the topic you want to discuss. For example, “What really matters is ____.” Or “The most important issue is ______,” or “The more interesting question is______.”

3) Stick to what a reporter asks and what you want to say. There’s no need to volunteer additional information. This goes back to planning what your goals are for the interview. You should know what it is that you’d like to communicate from the start, and stick to that information as much as possible. More is not better. Answer questions briefly. Long-winded answers give the power to the journalist to choose what parts of what you said to use and what to omit.

4) If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say so. There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know, that there hasn’t been a decision yet, or that you aren’t sure of the answer and need to check and will get back to the journalist.

5) But also don’t answer “No comment.” There are very few exceptions to this rule. When you say “no comment,” it almost always makes you look like you have something to hide. You should realize in advance that difficult questions come up and anticipate them, and plan in advance how to answer in a way that won’t hurt you. Advance preparation of likely questions and possible answers is the job of your PR team, with your input, of course.

BONUS: Don’t ask whether you can approve the story before it’s published. This will make you look unprofessional. Leave the follow up tasks to your PR team, or if you do not have one, at least wait until you send a thank you email/letter to inquire about a publication date. Journalists (especially in the traditional trade media) will sometimes provide information to you for fact-checking, so you can volunteer to be available for any further questions or for fact-checking if the journalist wishes.

Improve your news interview skills with a customized media training program, email us today at hello@elyagency.com to schedule a consultation.