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Media Training 101

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by Natalie Perkins

In the communications industry, media training is a crucial part of our jobs. We can get the best journalists in the room, but ultimately, if our client or spokesperson isn’t equipped with the right tools to give a good interview, their brand or message can end up being left out of the story.

Recently, we sat down with Jim Miller, Founder & President of Momentum Communications Group, to talk media training best practices. Throughout Jim’s career, he has media trained countless spokespeople and prepared clients for major interviews, both in-person and live on TV. These are a few of Jim’s tips for a successful media training. 

The Top 3

Before going into any interview, a spokesperson should know (and know well!) the top three things they want to communicate in the interview. As communications professionals, it’s our job to help identify these key points, and teach our clients how to articulate them clearly and succinctly. Once key messages have been identified, take it a step further and work with your spokesperson to think in sound bites – brief, quotable sentences that get the key points across. The easier the spokesperson is to quote, the more likely they are to be included in an article.

Mock It Up

There’s no better preparation for the real thing than a mock interview. Mock interviews should always be included in media training as a way to prepare clients for a variety of situations that can arise during real interviews, whether they’re over the phone, in person or on live TV. To get started, draft sample interview questions (make some of them tough!) that you’ll ask your spokesperson. A pro tip from Jim Miller: bring in a colleague who doesn’t know the client well to conduct the interview in order to make it feel that much more realistic.

Hit Record

Video recording mock interviews is one of the most helpful things that can be done in a media training. Having the ability to play back the interview instantly makes feedback much more impactful, and can often call attention to nervous habits like slouching, fidgeting or repetitive “ums” that the spokesperson might not realize are detracting from their interview.

“Anything Else to Add?”

When the reporter asks this question at the end of an interview, the answer is always “yes.” This is a spokesperson’s golden opportunity to state (or hopefully, reiterate) those three key points that they want to get across. Reminding your spokesperson to close out the interview with phrases like “I just want to reiterate” will help them leave a lasting impression with the journalist.

Confidence is King

At the end of the day, we want our clients to feel confident heading into an interview with a reporter. While constructive criticism is crucial throughout a media training, it’s also important to reinforce the positive and let them know what they’re doing right.