Media Training: Our Daniel Delson Breaks it Down
Even if you feel confident in your communication skills, talking to the media is different than other forms of business communication. Media training can help you talk to the media effectively, leading to better coverage that can boost your bottom line. We asked our head of media relations, Daniel Delson, to explain media training and share some actionable tips.
What is media training?
Media training prepares you to give audio, video and print interviews. The format of the training can be tailored to your specific needs. A typical media training session consists of a media expert helping you practice answering interview questions and delivering your company’s messages. It’s valuable for C-level corporate executives, startup founders, high-level creatives and anyone who will be representing an organization in the media.
“One thing we know about all of our clients is that they know their subject matter really well, but they may or may not have experience doing media interviews.” says Delson. “Even if they have experience delivering their messages to investor audiences and business partners, that might not be exactly the same as delivering their messages to reporters.”
If you want to be quoted, you need to be quotable
Media training helps you hone your messaging to make you more quotable. It also teaches you how to control your own story while you give interviewers what they need to provide value to their audience.
“Anyone walking into an interview should have … a game plan of two or three top messages that they want to get across no matter what the questions are,” says Delson. “We teach interviewees how to deal with difficult questions and how to pivot back to the main points that they came to speak about.”
This is important for traditional media, such as newspapers, magazines and TV. It’s also important for newer media formats, such as podcasts, YouTube, Twitch, etc.
Media training helps you avoid common pitfalls
Many executives are worried about being misquoted or being the subject of a negative story. It can happen, but media training will reduce the likelihood of it happening to you. Being quoted sparsely — or not at all — is a more pressing concern. If what you say (or how you say it) isn’t helpful to the interviewer’s story, you’ll miss the opportunity. So how can you communicate in a way that encourages the media to include your exact words in their piece?
“Use a story, an example–hypothetical or real–use people’s names, use brands that might be involved that people know of, and relate it back to things people can understand,” says Delson. “Importantly, experts simplify the complex. If you’re an expert, and you’re on a mainstream outlet, then you want to lose the jargon.”
Pro tip: don’t tell people something they’ve already heard! Offering something new, something counterintuitive, has greater value to reporters and their audiences.
Try identifying a trend. Relate your offering back to what’s in the news, and make it clear why the audience should care.
Remember Who You’re Ultimately Talking To
When you’re talking to an interviewer, it’s important to connect with that individual, but it’s key to remember that you’re not just talking to them– you’re talking to their audience.
Reporters are like a microphone, says Delson. Media training will set you up to use that microphone to amplify your message effectively. That critical preparation can ensure that you’re “delivering the messages you came to deliver that day.”