Before You Answer That Question

Media Training Can Make All The Difference

shutterstock_66700501lrWhat happens when a newspaper reporter wants to ask you a few questions? How do you respond if the TV station requests an on-camera interview?

News media attention can be solicited and welcomed, or it can be sudden and unwanted. In either case, the outcome may depend on whether a company is fully prepared.

Having an organizational spokesperson is not enough. When the media calls, they often want to hear from company executives, directors, experts or perhaps even board members.

Media training helps key company leaders become more skilled in the interview process. Understanding the dos and don’ts of a media interview, as well as how to inject your own message into the process, can make all the difference. Most importantly, media training can help you avoid mistakes and gaffes that could embarrass you and subject your company to greater scrutiny.

Lee Ragland, GodwinGroup Director of Public Relations, says media training is important because when speaking to the news media, you represent your brand. And refusing media interviews or responding with “no comment” is usually the wrong approach because many people interpret that answer to mean you have something to hide.

“A media request is an opportunity to tell your story and convey your message,” said Ragland.  “If you don’t communicate your message, someone else will likely do it for you and you probably won’t like the results. It’s critical to be honest and authoritative on the subject matter. The media is coming to you because you own the knowledge that it needs for a balanced story. ”

GodwinGroup has provided media training to dozens of companies, not-for-profits and governmental agencies, working with both small and large groups of executives and managers. The agency has also counseled companies in such areas as crisis communications, reputation management and litigation support.  Training can be done in small, half-day sessions with one or two persons, or extend to longer sessions and larger groups.

Ragland, a 19-year veteran as a news reporter before entering the public relations field, said GodwinGroup’s PR and Crisis Communications staff combines real-world news media experience with proven training tactics for achieving better outcomes to media interviews and adverse coverage. Attendees undergo mock interviews and learn tips on elocution, reporter expectations and non-verbal cues.

“Messaging and demeanor will vary according to the situation – for example, the tone for a manufacturing spokesperson would be vastly different if announcing a major expansion as opposed to an accident which involved fatalities. And unfortunately we have assisted clients in both situations.”

Ragland said most companies will, after media training, ditch the no-comment policy and learn to embrace media inquiries as opportunities. Media training not only helps executives become more comfortable with media interviews, it opens up new opportunities for projecting a more positive, accessible and honest image.

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