Cutting Through the Noise: How Media Training Can Help You Stay Sharp
Information travels very quickly, particularly during this time when any content shared online can be viewed by thousands within seconds. Right now, more individuals are paying closer attention to the news around them, and this can be attributed to the increase of online consumption as a result of the pandemic.
For brands or public figures, this could either be beneficial or detrimental. Just looking back in the past few years, how many brands and celebrities have embroiled themselves into controversy over actions that they were responsible for? While some of these controversies were inevitable due to exposed behaviour, some only escalated into a major topic after being covered by the press. The press has incredible audience reach and once a story gets posted, that reach becomes exponential as other news outlets see the coverage and report on it.
The media holds a lot of power with their ability to impact the reputation of a business or celebrity. Just look at one of the most talked about topics from this year alone, which was the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The interview dropped many bombshells that led the general public to question the integrity of The Royal Family after Markle discussed the treatment that she had personally experienced before stepping down as a working royal. It also caused the royal couple’s own approval ratings decline. What should be noted though, is how Oprah’s questions set the tone for the interview.
Interviewers, whether they are journalists or TV personalities, attempt to dictate the course of an interview. As noted by Columbia University, journalists can have two different objectives when they conduct interviews, one is to gather information about a specific event, while the other is to do a profile on an individual.
For executive spokespeople or celebrities, being interviewed by a journalist can result in positive publicity depending on the content that is being covered. On the other hand, it could also be a hot seat interview, where journalists will be asking tough questions that may leave public figures scrambling to come up with an answer on the spot.
This practice of gotcha journalism is nothing new, and it is designed to corner public figures with difficult questions that would leave them no other choice but to say something that would hinder their reputation. Remember, journalists are looking for new information that no one else has, and they’re also aware of the PR strategies that are used to control the narrative. It’s important to note that not all journalists are out to dish dirt on businesses or celebrities, but public figures have to be cautious of this.
Company spokespeople and celebrities can benefit from media training in order to make the most of any interview and avoid controversy. When being interviewed, public figures have to be cautious of what they say and not say, and even simple mannerisms such as body language and voice tone will be under heavy scrutiny by the public depending on the topic that is being discussed. In this context, the focus is on topics that can damage the reputation of a brand.
Staying Sharp With Media Training
Companies and celebrities often work with public relations professionals to help them secure press. Sometimes, it is the PR experts who speak on behalf of the public figure, but there are times where it makes more sense for the public figure to address the news media.
Public figures need to understand that their publicist or public relations expert may secure them the media spotlight, but journalists, who are part of the media, will not always play along in helping them achieve positive coverage.. Muck Rack’s 2021 State of Journalism study found that only six per cent of journalists see their relationship with PR experts as a partnership.
Knowing that journalists have their own objective with their interviews, businesses and celebrities have to be prepared when they are being asked challenging questions. This is where the importance of media training comes in to help individuals navigate these tricky obstacles.
Consider some of the points below with how media training can help in certain scenarios.
Taking Better Control of the Interview
When a public figure takes the initiative to go to the media, it is important to remember that not all journalists will always stay on the promised topic. Some companies or celebrities may have previous or outstanding controversies that journalists may want to pry about, and public figures need to know when to comment or not on certain subjects.
With media training, a public relations expert can go over certain techniques that help control the content of an interview. One of those is to pause before answering in order to give yourself an opportunity to decide the best way to answer. There are also techniques that allow the interviewee to keep the content on topic and ensure the interview doesn’t veer off in the wrong direction. Remember, interviews are done for a reason and that reason is that you can use it to achieve an objective.
Knowing the Right Words
In a live interview, there can be a lot of pressure knowing that everything said will be broadcasted immediately. Media training can coach public figures to act as if every opportunity they are speaking to the media is live in order to be more careful and mindful of the words they say. On the upside, spokespeople can never be taken out of context when the interview is live.
Journalists can sometimes ask curveball questions that are designed to throw spokespeople or celebrities off course, and this is a tactic that is prevalent in gotcha journalism. With ample media training, a public figure can know how to address this properly without derailing the interview, while also saying the right things to ensure that the question is still answered.
Using Your Charisma
It is important to remember that words that are spoken are just one aspect that will be viewed by the public. Although words are much more valuable than silence, how a public figure conducts themselves during an interview is very important. From their body language to their facial expressions, these elements contribute to someone's charisma or lack thereof.
Media training can help public figures develop their charisma. Although it is often assumed that some are just naturally better at it than others, it can be heavily attributed to reinforced media training. Celebrities and politicians have mastered this, and companies need to understand the value of using media training as a way to improve their standing with the media and their public reputation.
Bulletproof is a communications agency that provides media training services and effective communications strategies to help individuals and organizations achieve their objectives. The team consists of strategists, trainers, and journalists who understand the media, and the importance of public relations and communications to achieve desired goals.
Bulletproof media training is led by Tara McCarthy who has over 20 years of experience in building reputations and is an expert in strategic communications, public relations, and media training. The Bulletproof team of veteran strategists and trainers can teach you or your corporate teams effective strategies to gain more confidence when interacting with the media.
Bulletproof is an agency specializing in media training in English and French. Free consultations are available by filling out the contact form at www.bebulletproof.co.