Make the Most of Your Media Training

Make the Most of Your Media Training

When you hear the term “media training,” you might immediately think of helping a spokesperson prepare for an upcoming interview with a journalist or news station. But did you know that media training is used – and should be used – for much more than simply prepping for a traditional interview? This is especially true for CEOs and C-suite executives who regularly communicate and interact with a diverse group of stakeholders.

Implemented effectively, media training provides leaders with evolving skills to become more effective communicators. And in today’s fast-paced and digital world where information and opinion travels at the speed of light, it’s vital for CEOs to be expert communicators.

Debunking Media Training Myths 

Before diving into specifics, it’s important to first understand the truth about media training – and this involves dispelling some common myths.

  • First, many believe that media training is only used to speak with reporters. However, this type of training is used for a multitude of reasons beyond “the media.” Skilled message training can help spokespeople feel confident engaging with stakeholders to better manage and preserve company reputation, navigate a crisis, and ultimately articulate a point of view in a way that’s going to resonate with both internal and external audiences.
  • Second, contrary to popular belief, the media is not your audience. Of course, you can’t escape the media entirely, but it’s essential to understand their role in sharing your narrative. Simply put the media is not the audience; the media is the conduit to your audiences. That’s why it’s never helpful to think of journalists as evil or malicious people who are “out to get you.” In reality, working with reporters to get the facts right and the message clear will help you communicate your message to the target audience.

Prioritizing Core Message Development 

The goal of media training is to help spokespeople feel comfortable and confident speaking and engaging with challenging and important stakeholders like the media, philanthropic organizations, donors, groups of employees, and other potentially hostile third-party groups. Communicating with these audiences can become even more challenging during an active labor organizing campaign or a merger and acquisition, for example.

For CEOs and C-suite executives specifically, the ability to engage and resonate goes beyond simply being on camera or present during a Zoom or Teams call. That’s why leaders must take it a step further and use these trainings to become a communicator on all channels, including social media platforms like LinkedIn.  

In a media training session, leaders will participate in a practice called message development, the core fundamentals of which is understanding how to convey your message in a way your audience wants to hear. Through this practice, leaders will determine, refine, and understand their core message, which is called the “umbrella message.” This overarching message should be made up of pillars that include proof points to support your stance.  

An effective training program then helps these spokespeople tailor their answers through actual scenarios using different channels (online, on camera, print) to practice the integration of core messages, including how to pivot from negative questioning to make sure the core messages get into the story. It also helps them learn how to use storytelling techniques, which are a much more effective method of communicating because they help audiences connect to and resonate with messages they may otherwise be uninterested in or resistant to.    

After aligning key messaging, the most important element is the practice sessions, rehearsals, and role playing. Rarely, if ever, is a participant able to convey their message, in any scenario, without committing the time necessary to prepare and practice to make the engagement a success. Anticipating questions and having answers ready to respond will ensure the best outcome possible.

Partnering with Communications Teams 

Implementing an effective media training program, especially for executives, starts with partnering with your communications teams. These folks are, after all, the best communicators at your organization and can help make these trainings a part of your ongoing executive efforts.

Communications teams can also help thread these messages into all internal comms, like blogs and newsletters, as well as external-facing content like news releases and social media. Experienced communications professionals are excellent at connecting the dots and producing a cohesive, integrated executive leadership/visibility strategy for an entire organization.

So, when it comes to media training, take the time to unlearn some of these common myths, spend time developing your key messages, partner with your communications teams, and reap the benefits of what year-round, skills-based media trainings can offer!

At IRI, we’ve given C-suite executives the tools and support they need to be true champions for their organizations. We believe every business is different, and each requires its own holistic and customized approach to communications. Whether you need an internal communications assessment, guidance in developing your internal communications strategy or social media strategy, digital media intelligence, crisis communications services, media relations, or media training, we have expert communications consultants who can quickly provide a specialized solution. Contact us online today to discuss the next steps, or give us a call at (313) 965-0350.