Think media training CANNOT benefit YOUR business? Ask yourself our 10 questions and think again…
It’s tempting, if you’re a small or medium-sized business to think two things when you hear the words “media training”:
- it’s all about spin
- it’s only for the "big players" who appear on the national news.
Both assumptions are wrong. That’s because every media interview is an opportunity for a business, no matter what its size. (Even if you’re in the middle of a crisis, it’s still an opportunity to limit damage.)
And it’s an opportunity that can be far more effective than a press release or advert - and, unlike those two marketing tools, it will only cost you your time!
A good media interview, whether it’s with your local newspaper, the regional BBC TV news programme or a national broadcaster, gives you the perfect chance to:
- raise your company’s profile
- win new customers
- impart important information, perhaps about a new product range, staff member or service
- dispel false impressions
- and ultimately “punch above your weight”.
But when you do a media interview, no matter how niche the publication or small the radio station etc.., the journalist is in their comfort zone and you are not.
Answering possibly uninformed or tricky questions is not your day job. So the potential for you NOT to make the most of the opportunity - or completely fluff it - cannot be underestimated.
And that’s why media training by highly experienced journalists is essential.
If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself these 10 questions:
- what’s a down-the-line interview?
- where should the interviewee look during one of those?
- what should you say when you’re asked for a “sound check”?
- what should you avoid uttering in a soundbite interview?
- can anything be “off the record”?
- should you ever say “no comment”?
- if the journalist asks you about a rival company, how should you answer?
- how can you tell when a print interview has ended?
- should you ask to check a print interview before it’s published?
- what should you do if the journalist keeps interrupting you?
If you can’t answer any of the above, when a great interview opportunity arrives, you can easily look unprepared or perhaps naive; in extreme cases it could even cause a crisis (remember Ronald Reagan’s “We begin bombing in five minutes” comment and Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” quip?!)
Good media training should be viewed as an “investment” in your business and the “return on that investment” can come when you maximise those media interview opportunities, especially when you become so good at them, you become the “go to” person for the media, when they need someone to talk about your sector, your industry, or perhaps about doing business in your region.
We’ve trained many business people to be interviewed by trade magazines, local radio stations and even to appear on the toughest consumer TV programmes.
However, let’s be clear: broadcast and print interviews are not rocket science, but don’t launch yourself on an exciting and potentially hugely rewarding voyage into media space, without learning how to steer your craft through unknown territory…
Ann Bird is a former Health Editor and Executive Features Editor on the Daily Express and now heads up AB Business Training.
She has also written for many other national newspapers, including the Daily Mail, The Times, The Financial Times, The Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, as well as consumer magazines, such as Red and Good Housekeeping.
AB Business Training’s workshops include Media Training, Crisis Management and Presentation Skills.