Blog

15th March 2016

How media training puts you in control

“Executives who arm themselves with the right blend of technique and confidence can add significant value to their company or brand.”

Replacing fear with confidence.

For almost a century, the media has enjoyed the power to influence many millions of people, make or break a business, and expose scandal, corruption or wrong-doing.

For this reason, interacting with the media is a core discipline for organisations and individuals in the public domain. When it works, it is akin to marketing you cannot buy.

But the media landscape has changed considerably over the past decade. The Google Alerts culture brings local stories to an international audience; social media noise frequently drowns out carefully crafted corporate messages and is increasingly a source of news in itself; while the decline in readers, viewers and advertising revenues puts pressure on traditional media models.

This makes dealing with the media more challenging than ever.

Walking the media tightrope

A few individuals and companies manage to get it consistently right, delivering a constant flow of media-friendly stories, riding out tough times with aplomb and turning the way they interact with the media into an art form. Others fail spectacularly, gaffing their way into the press and out of a job.

But there is more to media training than trying to avoid a Ratner. Executives and spokespeople who arm themselves with the right blend of technique and confidence are able to use the media to communicate key messages to multiple audiences, defend and enhance reputations and raise the profile of their organisations or its initiatives. In doing so, they can add significant value to their companies or brands.

Bladonmore has been helping businesses communicate with the media for more than 10 years. Our coaching ensures senior executives and spokespeople understand what makes the media tick and learn the best way to communicate an important message. Critically, they find out why addressing the media is different from talking to customers, employees, investors and analysts.

Executives who arm themselves with the right blend of technique and confidence can add significant value to their company or brand

Our work is frequently the difference between getting the coverage you do want and the exposure you don’t.

We’ve produced this short guide to replacing fear with confidence when dealing with the media. We hope you find it helpful.

Three basic rules

1 – Understand the agenda

Understanding a journalist’s objectives is key to successfully conveying your own message. Many people distrust and dislike reporters, but it would be naïve to view them as the enemy. Journalists are often direct and pushy, but that is their job. These are but tactics to provoke responses from seasoned executives.

By understanding what drives, motivates, excites and enthuses them, you will be able to develop a relationship that works for you and for them. Building a good relationship can reap multiple benefits beyond simply seeing your name in print – including opening the door to new clients, investors, employees and contacts.

Understand the different types of story to help you understand what a journalist wants (see ‘Different types of story’).

2 – Understand your message

Be clear about your own objectives. Your messages need to be clear and succinct, and you should aim to convey them in an engaging and entertaining way.

Remember that the interviewer will have their own agenda and will often have no interest in your messages. But if you can offer insight, honesty and interesting quotes, there is a good chance that journalists will let you promote your strategy, product or service.

The real skill is in controlling a conversation led by someone else so that your key messages are communicated and reported.

Social media raises new challenges: it is less about imposing an agenda and more about contributing to the discussion and debate.

3 – Prepare and practise

A great interview is about more than just turning up, it is about the preparation and practice beforehand.

Prepare your key messages ahead of the interview, putting them into succinct phrases or bullet points. Don’t learn them parrot fashion or you run the risk of sounding hollow, but ensure that you are familiar enough that you can deliver them with authority and conviction.

Message checklist

At the very least, you should be able to complete a checklist like the one below before each interview you undertake.

  • What are my three key messages?
  • Which examples support each of these messages?
  • What negative questions can I anticipate being asked?

“Executives who arm themselves with the right blend of technique and confidence can add significant value to their company or brand.”