“I know everything there is to know about the media.” “Sure, send them in. I’ve got this, no worries.” “I’m just going to wing it, no big deal.” – Famous last words of former spokespeople
You know the saying “I wish I had a dime for every time I heard that?” Well, as experienced media trainers, PR professionals and former journalists, we know the uncomfortable stories behind these comments. People who thought they knew how to do media interviews, until it was too late. As a former TV reporter, I interviewed my share of people with no media training. They walked into interviews leaving their organizations vulnerable to my questions. We got great information because they were unable to communicate simple messages. It was a reporter’s dream, but not so good for them – C-suite leaders to non-profits, manufacturers and others who honestly should have known better.
At LC PR, we know that not saying the correct or appropriate thing to a reporter can quickly escalate beyond a one-time embarrassing moment. Bad interviews can create social media firestorms, cause brands to suffer, stocks to drop, companies and careers to fade and require days, weeks, even months to recover. On the other hand, pre-planning with in-depth and relevant media training on how and what to communicate when contacted by the media can help to positively position an issue publicly, offer an opportunity to elevate a company or product as a respected leader/brand and appropriately show sound leadership and empathy if a tragedy strikes. Social media and TV/print/radio newsrooms can amplify any good message, but they can also be unforgiving to bad comments allowing them to live forever on-air and online. To reporters, it’s just a story, but to you, it’s your – and your organization’s – reputation, and you need to protect it.
Great media training includes real-life, workable communication tools that will build upon your existing knowledge and allow you to frame issues in easy to understand messaging. You need to know who the media are and what they really want, before you start talking. Media training should have personalized communication scenarios and mock interviews that apply to your situation to ensure you are ready to respond. An experienced media trainer can show you how to easily manage tough questions, the first things to do when a reporter calls and what to do next.
Today’s communication channels are lightning fast. You need to be thoroughly prepared. Nothing should be left to chance. Having that poise in front of a camera, microphone or on the phone with a reporter comes through real-life training, preparation and practice.
Each year companies invest heavily in research and development, operations, new products and/or efforts to increase sales. But often when the time comes to talk to the media, they don’t invest in the appropriate media training beforehand to best present their ideas/products or respond in a crisis or controversy.
When communications move so fast, it’s critically important to know “what” you are going to say, before you even say it. Our advice – when a reporter sits down and the camera comes on, you had better be ready to go!