By Doreen Clark
Your company has just hired a public relations agency to boost visibility, increase credibility, and showcase thought leadership. Awesome! Your plan has been created and you have a strategic vision that is surpassed only by your high hopes and your agency’s connections. Fantastic! Your experts know the ins and outs of your organization and your PR agency has completed your media training, right? No? It may be time to put on the brakes.
Media training should be required—and not as a PR add-on. It’s simply vital to be successful when talking with the media. After all, not all your experts may have had formal media training—and even if they have, they may learn something new. Not all your experts may have been interviewed before and not all your experts may fully understand that a successful interview is more than answering the reporter’s questions.
Here are three reasons why you may think media training is not necessary—think again:
1. I Could Talk for Hours
You and your leadership team are experts when it comes to the company. You know your subject matter back and forth. If there is a question asked, you know the answer (+ some). You could write a book on the subject, and maybe you have. You could talk and talk and talk … and talk. All of this may be true, and may be a great asset if you were giving a company presentation or having a conversation with your colleagues about the direction of the organization. However, when talking with the media, less can be more. Though you may understand everything you are trying to say, it doesn’t mean that the media does. And, just because they are writing an article on a topic relevant to your company, does not mean that they understand everything about your company, your product or service, or even your industry.
If you lose the reporter in your windy response, it could be the difference between one quote and many. Media training will teach you, and the other experts who will be media-facing at your company, how to make the response concise and how to talk in sound bites. It’s a skill and media training can help you perfect it.
2. I Don’t Need Notes
Your public relations agency has given you the topic of the interview, the background of the reporter, and the outlet for which they write. You could talk about this topic in your sleep. Therefore, who needs notes? After all, you’re the expert, right? Everyone needs notes. If you were talking in a regular conversation, you wouldn’t keep coming back to the same points. If you were talking in a regular conversation, you wouldn’t weave in predetermined quotes—but this is not a regular conversation. It’s a media interview.
Your point isn’t just to have a discussion on the topic, the real point is to get your message across. Media training will teach you how to stay on topic and how to bring it back, even when the reporter goes in a different direction. Notes are required—no matter how much you know—and media training will show you what you should write down, before every interview, and how your notes can help in answering every question in a way that will benefit your PR vision.
3. I’m An Expert on Our Company
You have been with the company for many years. Or maybe you are new to the company but you have extensive experience within the industry and you are really the go-to person for answers. What more could you possibly need as you go into the interview? If you are asking this question, you need media training.
It’s not enough to know about your company. Your messages also need to focus on what the reporter wants to know and on what the audience wants to learn. Media training will teach you how to craft messages that will cater to each—making you a valuable addition to the reporter’s article.
If you have media outreach as a component of your public relations strategy, media training should be considered a necessity by both your leadership team and your PR agency. Media training will cover both the phone interview and the on-camera interview. Media training will show you how to create messages that will get your company’s point across while playing to the reporter’s interest and catering to what the audience wants to know. Media training will give you, and your team, the tools to deliver sound bites in a way that can’t be ignored.
It’s not enough to have industry know-how or product expertise. It’s about getting your company’s message into the story. There’s an art to a successful interview. It’s a skill. And, like anything else you want to perfect, training is key.