Some Media Training Tips Going into 2019

In these days where everyone has a Smartphone capable of video and immediate posting, the world is really your stage. I was reminded of this seeing a video by an Investigative Reporter confronting a would-be scam artist with his iPhone. Many of them have used hidden cameras in the past, but these days, they are practically invisible. So not all media opportunities involve careful lighting and preparation.

Too often in public relations, Media Training is a subject that is often viewed as being of use only for that segment of the population that will be interviewed by the media. However, it has a much broader use for business that includes communications readiness for those challenging and potential crisis situations that can arise in almost any situation.

Media Training is not just for use in conducting a press conference, it can also apply to customer and consumer interactions, seminars, corporate meetings, and even family disagreements over the holidays. Not all Media Training is about being adversarial, but all Media Training is about having an agenda.

You have an agenda and a message. The interviewer/customer/audience/family member does too. They are rarely the same. In the space of this blog, it’s hard to provide anything but a brief overview, but here are a few summary tips, squeezed into the roughly 500 word limit here.

Part of your messaging is your credibility, which starts with your choice of language and vocabulary:
• Finish your words: add the “ing” to all words (i.e. going – not gonna).
• Use real words (i.e. “anyways” is NOT a word. Never has been a word; irregardless is NOT a word).
• Use real phrases (i.e. one cannot be “in regards.” Regards are used in a sentence this way, “with regard to…”)

Just as important is how you deliver your message. Your body language speaks volumes:

• How you sit; hold your arms; hands; legs; facial expressions say more than your words (i.e. the presidential debates).
• Who’s Looking/Listening/ Reading You? Find out your audience, whether it’s a speech, meeting or media venue. Are they female or male? What age are they? What are their hot buttons?

Now more than ever, content is king. Whether you are conducting a meeting, presentation/seminar or in a media situation, it is about the content. Remember, you have superior knowledge because you are talking about what you know; have accomplished; or the product or message being marketed. Although it may seem it is not the case, if you are prepared and the camera is pointed at you, you always have the upper hand, if you know what to do.

In terms of the messaging, always tell the truth. This doesn’t mean you give away confidential information and you are trying to put your messages in context and in the best possible light. If you are asked a question and you don’t know the answer, let the interviewer/audience know you will get back with the answer or appropriate person for that topic. Remember your agenda. If you aren’t asked the question you want to hear (and you probably won’t be), bridge to the message you want to get across.

I was reminded by a public speaker the other night, that a background in theatre/drama can help. If you are looking for confidence, some basic training in community theatre might help you learn to project, stand up straight, remember what you are supposed to say under pressure and cope with stage fright. It’s also great sales training. Thoughts, questions, comments, I’d love to hear from you.