Media Training 101: Tips on Teaching Your Client

Advocacy. Advocacy. Advocacy.  It’s PR 101, it’s what we do for our clients and it’s what is engraved into our brains from the start.  Part of advocating for your client or your company can be media training. Media training is simply preparing your client for press conferences, interviews, TV appearances, etc. It’s a daunting task because no matter how prepared you and your client can be, the media can always throw in a question or comment that you didn’t expect. It is our job to make sure the client is prepared for that.

Start off the media training with something fun and engaging. 
Pretend you’re the reporter and ask them really hard questions. Chances are they’ll freeze up (that’s why you’re in the position of training them, after all). This will show the importance of what they’re about to listen to and experience.
Keep your client’s personality in mind.
If they’re generally a formal person from a suit-and-tie company, they might not be comfortable loosening up in a conversational situation with a reporter. Practice makes perfect and the more you help your client embrace relaxation, the better they will do in the interview. Cool, calm and collected is a really overused saying for a reason.
Don’t use jargon.
Whether we realize it or not, our field is littered with jargon that no one else understand. Clients don’t know what editorial and impressions mean so there’s no use in talking about it during your training. Keep it short and simple and easy for them to understand so they stay in full focus during your presentation.
Focus on the mission statement.
It’s the core of their business and something that they should know inside and out. By incorporating something that they are already comfortable with and making it the base of the training it will help them adjust better.
Wrap it up by reiterating why media training matters.
You can repeat your initial interview exercise and watch them be amazed with the progress they made in a few short hours. End with key takeaways that are most important for them to remember. Always offer yourself up for additional help outside of the training session.
As PR professionals we are supposed to be media aficionados. Sometimes these skills can get in the way of seeing how other people are going to feel if they’re talking to a reporter. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and make sure to talk to them that way. You’re helping them with their skills and cultivating your relationship with them, all in one.
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