Off the record: 8 reasons your CEO needs media training.

Posted August 26, 2015 in by

Media Training_Ervin and SmithYou’ve secured the ultimate media interview – Wall Street Journal, Today Show, or New York Times. You’re beyond thrilled! You suggest to your spokesperson that he/she set aside time to do some media prep before the interview and are met with – “Oh, I got this” or “I present in front of crowds all the time, no worries.”

Then comes the big day and your expert delivers a cringe-worthy performance – doesn’t answer the reporter’s questions, forgets to deliver key messages, bashes the competition, etc. As PR professionals we’ve all been there at some point in our careers. In my case, it was an expert calling the host of a national morning show a “hottie” on live TV. I still wince to this day thinking about it.

Whether it’s your CEO or the head of product, any person who is tasked with speaking to the media for your brand or company needs media training.

So how do you get them on board?

As representatives for your company, your spokespeople need to be experts at selling not only to your target audiences, but to the media as well. While the strategies for message delivery may be similar, delivering messages in front of the media can add another level of complexity that not all experts are able to manage without some prep. Here are eight reasons why your CEO or spokesperson needs media training. Take some notes and share with them.

Learn how to control the interview

Yes, journalists can be intimidating, but for the most part, they are trying to do a job, just like the rest of us. As a spokesperson, we control how much we say or don’t say to a reporter. Learning tips and tricks – like how to speak in sound bites, it’s not your job to fill the silence it’s theirs, make sure to answer their questions, or how to bridge the conversation back to a key message – can all be helpful skills your executives should learn.

Build confidence and ensure key message delivery

Using tools like video playback in your media training sessions can be a hard dose of reality for overconfident experts. Media training can help experts become more self-aware of their speaking habits, body language and how the messages they are delivering sound. Not all leaders are born charismatic, but a little media training can be key in helping to build skills and understanding how to deliver the right message.

Be prepared to respond to tough questions

One of the fears that top executives have is that a crisis will happen and they’ll be blindsided by a reporter or asked a question they don’t know how to answer. Media training can prep executives on how to deliver messages during a crisis, help anticipate what some of those tough questions could be ahead of time and how to best answer.

More likely to be quoted and less likely to get misquoted 

Knowing how to navigate the ins and outs of a media interview and how to talk in short, concise messages helps ensure that key messages are delivered. Experts need to know that from a 10-minute conversation, only maybe one or two sentences will be attributed back to them. Keeping it short and concise and answering the question directly will help ensure your expert is the one quoted in the story, not your competition.

Be seen as a thought leader and increase brand awareness

Staying on top of trends and knowing how to deliver what reporters need is key to gaining awareness in the media and giving your company an opportunity to reach new customers. 

Mitigate legal risk

In a highly regulated industry or work for a publicly traded company? Media training can help executives learn what they can and cannot say publicly and help protect them (and the company) from legal risk.

Provides polish for other public speaking opportunities

Chances are your CEO or expert isn’t just tasked with speaking to the media, but perhaps a board of directors, customers, at conferences or events. Taking time to refine these skills can help them be better communicators in all areas of the business.

Remember, a little prep can go a long way in helping your spokesperson not only build confidence, but also deliver a concise message with conviction in a way that their audience can understand and relate to.

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