A good media training programme can ensure that your media relations strategy doesn’t turn into a total disaster. There is no point in having the best media relations professionals by your side unless you are willing to take proper advice and training when it comes to undergoing media interviews.
A good example of the importance of media training was to be seen during the 2018 Irish Presidential Election, where Gavin Duffy seemed to be caught badly off guard and off-strategy by RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke.
Way back during the recession years, seeing people being mauled by the likes of Vincent Browne or Ivan Yates live on television or radio became something of a national sport. It was fast and furious, heavyweights landing knockout blows live on late night television. It was certainly a time when those of us working in media relations and media training had to work very hard indeed.
While a tortuous interview can be compulsive viewing from the spectators’ point of view, it is often a traumatic experience for the interviewee. However, a little bit of advanced media training can turn trauma into triumph when it comes to engaging with the media and having a successful media relations campaign.
Here are some simple guidelines that will help.
- Formulate a plan for the interview
What would you like to see in the resulting media coverage? What three key messages do you want to relay? Remember, if you don’t have a solid plan you yield control of the interview to the journalist. Always reflect on the theme or topic of the programme and does it suit your profile and message.
- Ask the question you want to answer
Don’t wait for the reporter to ask the question you want to answer. Instead, direct the conversation towards the topic you want to discuss.
- No jargon
Answer questions in plain English as simply as possible, and without jargon or technical phrases. A key element of media training is learning how to express terms simply and succinctly. Talk in the same manner you would as if you met someone and they asked you a question.
- If you don’t know, just say so
There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know. You can add that there hasn’t been a decision yet or that you aren’t sure of the answer and will report back.
- Watch out for “loaded questions”
Loaded questions can be used to paint you in a negative light no matter how you answer. The trick is to answer as briefly as possible, and create a bridge from the negative question to the message you want to convey.
- Silence can be golden
You don’t have to talk to the media if you do not feel it is in your best interest. Don’t feel pressurised into placing yourself in a difficult position. You can politely decline and put yourself forward for interview when another time suits.
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