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Why Media Training Matters

When working with a client who has completed a few interviews and worked with a public relations or communications agency for a while, it is easy to forget about the need for media training. However, no matter how much of a media veteran your new client is, media training matters.

Whether the new client is a restaurateur, fashion designer, celebrity, attorney, artist, author or hotelier, head of philanthropic organization, CEO or whatever, if they are undertaking a new campaign then before conducting an interview, it is important to go over the basics and refresh and recap on what the new strategy and messages are and what some potential pitfalls could be.

Everyone has cringed and watched an interview that has gone wrong where the guest caught off-guard by a seemingly innocuous question that appeared well within their area of expertise, or they stumbled for the right answer, or they were overly distracting to viewers by moving around their hands or not looking at the presenter, or worst of all, they bored the interviewer half to death with a long-winded, unfocused answer. The reason for all of these mistakes, is not continually preparation.

Some key things to communicate to the client, before they undertake an interview, especially if it’s a live broadcast segment, are for them to:

  • Make a list of talking-points that will serve as a study guide. But to also be flexible and be fully up to date on your industry trends and despite your intentions for the direction of the interview, the reporter or presenter, may have a different idea.
  • Keep it short! This is known as “talking in sound bites.” Producers and presenters want you to give the most important information in the shortest clip of time.
  • Assume the camera is on you from the moment you arrive – this way you won’t be caught off-guard with your eyes and body focused elsewhere, checking out the monitors, the floor, etc.
  • Be enthusiastic and polite. Shake their hand, smile and show how happy you are to be there. Direct your answers to the interviewer – not the camera and then make sure to thank the interviewer before the segment ends.
  •  Redirect, redirect, redirect! If you don’t know the answer, redirect rather than admit you don’t know. Use a transitional phrase to bring it back to something you do want to say. Try: “You know what’s more important?”  “Let’s consider this….”

When you are a NYC public relations firm, you are centrally located to many national news stations including NBC, MSNBC, Fox News and more, and with the 24-hour news schedules, consistent media training is even more important, as clients can be called on to be a last-minute guest on the news shows at any time.