Google what it takes to be a great leader, and you’ll find plenty of inspirational quotes, daily habits and philosophies. What you won’t find so often is a CEO speaking of their proven strategies for managing media interviews.
When a media opportunity comes up, this often means a tough conversation – for both the CEO and their assistant or advisor.
Like any business or leadership skill, handling media interviews well takes practise and training. So if you find yourself needing a media trainer for your CEO, where do you start?
Before you jump on Google and start researching, it’s important to understand that essentially, you have five things to consider.
Five keys that will shape your media training experience in different ways.
Knowing how these impact the type of media training you’ll get is the first step in finding the right trainer for your CEO.
Don’t use PR people
Public relations agencies often offer media training as a spin off service. This sounds logical, since they obviously know a lot about media, but it’s not their core business. Most are not qualified journalists, and many have never worked in the press. Which translates to a sound understanding of media theory, but little grasp of media practice. You might have an interesting chat, but you’re unlikely to walk away with new lifelong skills.
Media training should be an immersive, practical experience that has a life changing effect on the participant. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true!
Recent media experience
These days, there’s just no two ways about it: you need a media expert who can not only survive but thrive in today’s digitally driven 24-hour news cycle.
Build a relationship with someone who’s at home in this environment. It might begin with learning how to interview well – but as the right trainer will show you, this is just the tip of the media iceberg!
A passionate and experienced media trainer will add value on many other levels. They’ll write (or at least update) your crisis media plan. They’ll create a media strategy for you, complete with angles, hooks, messages and sound bites for all of your stories. Then they’ll show how to pitch the stories, so you get maximum media exposure.
With the right media trainer, most of this is achievable within a matter of hours.
Follow up support
We’ve all been there: you attend a training course, feel pumped afterwards and believe you have a good grasp of the skills. Then you re-enter the real world. And you need help.
Media training is no exception.
For you to become an accomplished media performer, you need a trainer who provides extensive follow up support. This means that after your intensive full or half day session, you should receive a series of one-hour follow ups to help you polish and refine your technique.
Intensive media training workshops are really important. But your ongoing personal development and access to the network of a well-connected reporter is priceless, and only comes with a long-term relationship.
And the proof is in the press: we’ve seen time and again how follow ups and ongoing support program can elevate motivated clients to get more and more coverage, just because their performances are so good.
While you’re searching for the right trainer is when you should be speaking to the trainers.
Don’t let anyone gloss over this important step while you’re gathering quotes. The only way you’ll know if the trainer has what it takes to make your spokespeople confident and engaging is if you can see them being that way!
Media training is a highly personal process – the more connected the trainer is with your spokesperson, the better the outcome. You need to know that your trainer is passionate, interested in you and your team, responsive (including at quote time) and will make themselves available for a coffee catch up.
Flat rate small groups
The last thing your busy CEO needs is to attend a media training with only limited opportunity to get hands on. Theory counts for little if there’s no on-camera practise!
Make sure you choose a small group training charged at a flat rate. Around 5 participants is ideal, as it gives everyone a great experience – they can share and discuss ideas and there’s no room for people to hide, so it doesn’t end up becoming a boring lecture instead of an activity based workshop!
While you might feel a little uncomfortable broaching the subject of media training with your CEO, this will pale in comparison to how they’ll feel if they make a poor show on camera and risk damaging their professional image. Follow these tips and partner with an experienced media professional who knows how to bring out the best in your spokespeople while giving the press what they want – it’s a relationship investment that will reap rewards for many years to come.
What other tips would you suggest for finding the right media trainer?
Tell us below in the comments section.
Want to get your staff media-ready?
We provide media training led by experienced journalist Tony Nicholls, who has covered international stories and worked for many of Australia’s major news networks. Find out more about the types of training we offer here.
Founder and Director of Good Talent Media