Finding The Right Coach To Make Sure You Are Media Ready

Media Skills Training

When the media comes calling, savvy executives know it's not time to 'wing it'.

Media Trainers are in the business to prepare executives and public figures for the media spotlight.

But how does media training work and how can you be sure you select a qualified trainer?

Here are some tips to make sure the media training expert you pick knows the score.

Wanting The Attention

Executives who WANT media attention for their companies, their products or their reputations have never had more opportunities to win that attention.

There's a wide range of media outlets today from broadcast to broadband, and all of them are hungry for good stories.

So if you've won media attention, how can you be certain you make the best use of it?

That's where media trainers come in.

Media Trainers

Their job is to prepare executives for the unique interaction that is the media interview; to help that executive or spokesperson put their best foot forward each and every time.

Media trainers work through the use of mock interviews and scenarios, putting executives through the paces of realistic interactions with reporters.

Many trainers work by videotaping their sessions and writing mock articles, coaching executives through both the content of what they say and the execution.

It isn't easy meeting the succinct demands of both broadcast and print reporters, making sure your points get made briefly and powerfully.

But how can you be sure you select the right trainer to help you prepare? Here are some things that will better the odds of ensuring a good fit:

Pick A Media Trainer Who Has Worked In The Media

Sounds simple enough, but don't assume your trainer has real-world experience. Some so-called media trainers have never set foot in a newsroom.

Some have backgrounds in public relations, sales, marketing or even entertainment fields-but if the best experience your trainer has is in watching others who come in contact with reporters-find another trainer.

Interacting with the media is a full-contact sport, often with much at stake. Find a trainer who comes to training after a career as a reporter and you will have someone who knows what you'll need to perform at your best.

Don't Pick A Media Trainer Who Has Only Worked In The Media

As important as it is to find a former reporter to train you, don't stop there. Your trainer has to have experience working on the other side of the fence. That's because professional reporters are long accustomed to and proud of being able to ignore the consequences of their stories.

Contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of mainstream reporters are not advocates. They simply don't concern themselves with whether you're harmed or helped as a result of their story. As the interviewee, of course, you care a great deal about that.

That's why it's important to be sure your media coach understands both worlds, yours as the subject of media interest and theirs as the tellers of your story. Find a trainer with at least some experience in advocacy communications, either as a spokesperson or in some other role.

You want a trainer with knowledge of the practical tools of media interaction: messaging and positioning. Don't engage a media trainer who has never dealt with those tools or with the aftermath of a media interview gone wrong.

Bigger Isn't Always Better

The largest public relations and management training firms say they offer media training in their portfolio of services. They do, after a fashion. Media training is a special expertise however and one few large firms invest in.

If you choose a big firm, make sure you check the credentials of the person actually slated to do your training. Don't accept a trainer whose only credentials are that they are on your assigned account team.

Experience Counts, But Not All Experience Counts Equally

Look for a media trainer who is a good match for your specific needs. If you're preparing for print interviews, a media trainer with television experience only won't be the best choice.

If television interviews are on your agenda, make sure your trainer understands that TV reporters aren't just print reporters who use pictures. If you're playing in the big leagues, don't assume your trainer understands the very rough and tumble world of the major markets and networks.

ASK if your trainer is experienced in preparing for live broadcast if that's what you need, as well as taped interviews, ambush interviews as well as press conferences.

Find A Media Trainer You Can Trust And Then Trust Them

If dealing with the media were easy, there'd be no need for media trainers. In reality, even those who interact with reporters regularly can get into trouble over something they said or didn't say.

It takes skill and practice to ensure your interests are served, and that every interview you give is a powerfully, effective one. If you don't have internal staff to help keep you on track, make sure your trainer is available for follow-up help.

A good media trainer is like a good reporter: Professional, tough and truthful (even if you hope they're not staying for dinner).

This article was contributed by Aileen Pincus

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