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Media training for company spokespeople can’t happen too soon

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Media Training

“If you lose money for the firm, I will be very understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless.”
-Warren Buffett

Whether announcing company news or dealing with a crisis, someone from your company will inevitably be working with the media. It’s important for your spokesperson to go through a formal media training program before you find yourself in a potentially detrimental situation that could harm your company’s or your own reputation.

Media training is robust and comprehensive, covering many topics such as general interview discussion tips, common things to avoid during an interview, body language tips and how to get your key messages across. Here are just a few tips we offer clients during a session:

Your message and the way you deliver it could be different based on the type of media you are interviewing with. Keep in mind the differences in messaging needed for TV, radio or print. For all forms, you need to understand the audience. With TV, it’s very important to not only be prepared but to look prepared. With radio, it’s important to use words that are visual to help capture listeners. With print, it’s easier to restate your answer or have the reporter restate the question if you’re unsure of what he or she is asking.

Do the obvious. Show up prepared. Elaborate on your responses by avoiding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Don’t be argumentative; it’s easy to get defensive of your company in times of crisis, but remember to keep a cool head. Whatever you say can be used against you.

What you say isn’t the only thing people are paying attention to. Body language is extremely important to remember. If you look natural and convey positive messages (looking the reporter in the eye, smiling, using good posture), the audience will believe you know what you’re talking about. Looking impatient, repeating gestures, shifting your body frequently and failing to look people in the eye are all things to avoid.

One of the most important things we stress during media training is how, during an interview, to end every question with a prepared, strategic message. To make company spokespeople and executives feel as comfortable as possible communicating with the media, they must be prepared to answer the tough questions.

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