Media Training: why you need it

All publicity is good publicity, right? Well, not really. In reality, media coverage comes in many forms, and it can impact your brand in different ways. But if you’re going to be in the spotlight, you want to have the most control over what that impact will look like. And that will depend on whether you have an understanding of the current media landscape, know your messaging, and feel confident in your delivery — all of which are part of media training. 

Media training is crafted to create good publicity that results in sales, shares, viewership, general awareness, and the brand PR you actually want. SMITHHOUSE has developed long-standing relationships with the press and has extensive experience in media relations; we know how to set our clients up for success. Here’s everything you need to know.

The Basics of Media Training

Media training is the best way to ensure you’re armed and prepared with the correct messaging and proper delivery no matter what reporter or news outlet you’re talking to. Whether you’re launching new programming, a new product or partnership, confronting a controversy, or simply looking to generate awareness, but have never spoken to the press before, the ability to communicate effectively with the people who can amplify your message is an invaluable opportunity to achieve your unique goals. 

The fact is the press isn’t here to promote your brand — their goal is to share a story fairly and consider all the angles. While you can’t control their viewpoint, there are some things you can control. And that’s where we come in.

The steps…

  • Introduce PR 101, talking through what exactly the press is and what their goals are. 
  • Teach all aspects of an interview — from body language and techniques to general prep.
  • Explain what the specific outlet is known for; what are some of the bylines the reporter has written recently, etc. 
  • After the basics, dive deeper into framing the brand. We help you become aware of the top messaging points, how your particular brand or project will stand apart, and how to differentiate from the competition in your specific landscape.
  • Practice Q&As ranging from general to challenging topics, walking through the questions most likely to be asked, regardless of the outlet, and help craft some potential answers to each. 
  • Make sure you know what to divulge, what not to reveal, and how to best position topics that are going to bring their brand into the best light. Just because something is challenging, doesn’t mean you should avoid it. 
  • Position ourselves as the reporter or host in a mock interview and see how you naturally answer the questions. We’ll offer feedback in real-time while offering the option to record and watch it back. You’ll understand what was strong about your answer and areas of improvement that will help you answer more confidently. Practice makes perfect!

The 5 W’s of Media Training

When going through the media training process, you need to prepare answers that reflect your values and goals with an understanding of the outlet you’re speaking to and its audience. When it comes to media training, the goal can be as simple as general awareness, but it can also be a chance to make a bold statement — or reversely, salvage your reputation. So consider these five things…

  • Who is appearing on behalf of your brand or network? Will you feature an executive, employee, actor, director, producer, or influencer? Does this person fit the audience of the press outlet you’ve chosen? How will they be received? 
  • Where will this interview or quote appear? Is it happening on a live stream or on a pre-recorded podcast? On a phone call or on camera? If the audience can see your body language, that’s another important thing to consider, while editing capabilities will make a difference in preparation approach as well. 
  • Why is your messaging newsworthy and What does the public want to know? Having a great message is a start, but it’s likely to fall flat unless you can connect with the audience. Crafting your message to appeal to today's audience helps you join the trending conversation with topics about what matters to the audience and why you matter on that topic. 
  • How can you highlight the most important facts that the media should share? Prepared talking points will have you ready to highlight the most essential facts at a glance.

What’s the Value of Media Training?

Have you ever watched big-name actors give away accidental spoilers? Have you wondered why the best movie of the year got an Emmy snub? Have you seen an executive freeze up when asked a hard-hitting question on camera? There are so many things that can go wrong when working the PR circuit, but the short answer is – media training helps prevent mistakes.

Make sure your representatives are going into an interview very well prepared. Think of it like prepping for a big game. Training and preparation arm you with confidence before getting in the hot seat, minimizing the chance of surprises that hurt your position or distract from your overall goals

Be prepared in case challenging questions and controversial topics surface. It doesn’t matter if your project or product seems harmless and incontestable — challenging questions do come up. Media training turns a difficult situation into a challenge and an opportunity instead of a media crisis.

And that’s just with the simplest of situations. 

Some interviews will require additional support, including addressing viral topics, controversial history, political opinion, or perhaps an up-and-coming talent decides to go on an Instagram tell-all. Instead of running away from hot-button issues, we want to ensure your reps are prepared to answer those questions and pivot in a way that best benefits your brand. 

Whether participating in a phone or video interview, live or taped, it pays to do your homework. SMITHHOUSE trains clients to know what the outlet is known for and even to manage fashion and body language. It’s about taking the guesswork out of interviews; we’re here to help.

SMITHHOUSE is a boutique PR firm serving clients from our locations in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. We support clients throughout every step of the media journey to ensure your brand or project is presented in the very best light. To prepare for your moment in the spotlight, contact us today.

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