Want your business to look good in the media? Invest in the correct training and the right words will always be on the tip of your tongue. PR Consultant Kittima Sethi explains
IN today’s media savvy world, every company wants to be featured in the press to tell their story. However, when they are faced with the media, they often find that they are either misquoted or that they were unable to deliver the message they wanted the public to hear.
Remember that spoken words have power. Whatever you say during an interview will be used by several media outlets (print, online and broadcast) and bloggers. News travels quickly in this age of digital media and there is no room for making errors.
This is why it is imperative to carefully choose words when speaking with media to avoid any awkward miscommunication. Make sure your statements and responses are well-crafted otherwise you risk facing the consequences and inadvertently damaging the company’s credibility and reputation.
Many companies are eager to get exposure in the press but fail during interviews as they do not know what to say, and how and when to say it.
This is where media training is helpful to avoid this type of situation. The key is to be prepared so that you can effectively present your message to the media to maximize this opportunity for media exposure. Media interviews go beyond just simply promoting your products or services. They educate the public about your background and your inspiration for creating your product, and also add credibility to your organization.
Media training is used to train a company’s spokesperson on how to interact with the media to effectively communicate a key message, thus gaining positive coverage for the company.
Media training is not limited to just large companies. It is also suited to small business owners. Media training is a great tool in helping you understand what the media is looking for and how to handle all types of media interviews.
During media training, a team of specialized trainers with backgrounds in media, PR and crisis management conduct either a half or full-day interactive workshop. It is usually provided to the senior management of the company and the spokesperson designated by the company.
The spokesperson of the company must have a strong understanding of the company’s background, be the best representative of the ethos of the company, and be qualified to comment. This spokesperson could either be the company’s CEO, senior executive or a public relations director. It is important that the spokesperson receives media training to develop skills needed to convey a consistent message. Additionally, you want to make sure that the person will be comfortable and articulate in front of the media.
Media training covers a variety of communication topics. It includes both theory and hands-on practice of speaking to the media. It involves videotaped, simulated media interview sessions and role playing. Participants are provided with interview tips and strategies they can use so that they can feel comfortable, confident and in-control when speaking with a reporter. A media trainer will provide you insights into the media so that you understand how media works.
Taking part in a media interview doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. The key is in preparation. Be prepared with facts and figures. Rehearse your messages and answers so you avoid stumbling when answering. Keep the interview simple. Avoid using too much jargon or industry-specific words or you will confuse people and risk being misunderstood or not understood at all.
Take the example of the BP oil spill in 2010, where a pipeline was ruptured beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest oil spill in US history.
Bad communication coupled with a lack of transparency, honesty, and insensitivity to the victims drew heavy criticism from the media and general public. CEO Tony Hayward clearly did not handle the situation well. He blamed the spill on the company that operated the drilling and said it wasn’t BP’s accident. He also misjudged the size of the spill, saying: “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” During an interview, he said he wanted his “life back” and was photographed holidaying with his son on a yacht amidst the crisis.
Needless to say, this portrayed both the organization and the CEO in a negative light. Media training would have enabled Tony to handle even the most challenging questions gracefully.
Kittima Sethi is a PR consultant at Brand Now Co., Ltd. A former journalist, she also conducts media training and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org