Get media training

I've been on both sides of the desk when it comes to media interviews, starting my career as a magazine writer and editor, and later, leading communications, media relations or public affairs for three of the nation's largest nonprofit organizations and one U.S. federal government agency. At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, anything that was going to become public had to come through me, and I faced an international press corps at the highest levels hourly and daily. I've been a spokesperson on behalf of others, and an interview subject in my own right. I've moderated numerous press conferences and handled 1:1 media interviews in every news medium.

And I've seen media training change over time, particularly in this age of social media, when anyone with a smartphone can capture audio or video, often without your knowledge. All the more important, then, to know how to handle yourself when you interact with the news media. I lead small group and 1:1 media interview training sessions that can help you understand:
  • the rules of the road in journalism, or what you're responsible for as a source versus what the journalist is (and isn't) responsible for in the interview exchange;
  • how to receive and handle media interview requests, with a list of questions you get to ask reporters so you can be better prepared;
  • how to answer media interview questions without sounding like a robot or failing to let the reporter get a question in edgewise;
  • how to respond rather than react to questions that get under your skin, sound inane and obvious, and hide assumptions you need to address;
  • how to identify and prepare for the questions you want, expect and fear, and why it's the questions you want that may be the hardest to answer;
  • how to use a three-point message to answer questions and offer options in an interview;
  • how to make sure the reporter takes away your points, without asking to see the story before it appears;
  • how you act and react in practice interviews, and how to use what you observe to handle interviews better next time.
I've conducted media training for a wide range of executives: company CEOs and senior managers, nonprofit leaders, university presidents, federal officials at the highest levels, and more. I have a specialty in working with scientists, engineers, and technical experts of all kinds, in both media and public interactions.

Do you need a media training or a strategy session?

Many companies and organizations ask me to do a non-traditional take on media training. Instead of mock interviews and practicing specific question-and-answer skills, we gather a group of senior leaders and work through how you would handle statements, responses, press logistics and other considerations during a crisis. We can run through a variety of scenarios, pinpoint problem areas, and identify next steps in preparation, so you don't get caught entirely by surprise and are ready for responses in real time. This is a smart session to schedule so your senior team members understand their roles in responding to a public crisis.

Media training. Public speaking training. They're not the same.

While public speaking and media interviews are both types of public speech, they're not the same thing. I can tell you which core skills apply to both situations, but media interview skills require more specialized knowledge of the workings of journalism. That's not to say that public speaking is easier--far from it. But the considerations are different. Read Should you ask for media training or speaker training? How to decide to find out more.

Can observers attend a 1:1 media training session?

Well, that wouldn't be 1:1, now, would it? I discourage observers generally, but in the case of media training, I include the media relations director or spokesperson who'll be working with the interview trainee at no extra charge. Further observers are discouraged. Let's discuss your thinking and goals if you wish to include an observer.

Specialized media training for communications pros

Although you work with reporters on a daily basis, you may never have moderated a press conference or planned for crisis communications. I can work with you to learn the specialist skills communicators need to do even better in their work with reporters.

I also run a popular workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts, for communicators who work with scientists, engineers, policy wonks and other subject-matter experts, including putting experts before news media. You can sign up for several sessions throughout the year or I can bring the workshop to your communications team. Just email me at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com for more information or to get on the waiting list.

(Creative Commons licensed photo from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

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