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The importance of having media training in your business plan

Now is the time many businesses will be developing their 2024 business plans in anticipation for the new year ahead. Any solid business plan will assess areas for improvement and take steps to safeguard their reputation against the risks and unknowns that lie ahead. This year has seen scandals and the arrests of their own officers at the Met police, NHS strikes and the Lucy Letby trial, crumbling concrete at schools, the breakout of an intense war in the Middle East and the cultural and information clashes this has brought to UK society.

It is impossible to predict what 2024 will bring and what questions organisations will be asked as a result, however it is possible to prepare your senior leaders, in-house comms teams and designated spokespeople for the media scrutiny that they may face. Crisis communications training and media training are an integral part of any business plan, and allocating resources and one or two days of the upcoming year for training is a sensible and impactful way of improving your organisation’s resilience.

Even the simplest of media training tips can save a spokesperson from a controversial moment. Gillian Keegan recent slip up provided the perfect example of this as she entered the political hot mic club by failing to remember a key rule – if there are cameras and microphones present always act as if you are being recorded.

At Alder our specialist trainers cover these essential principles but also the tiny details that can have major impacts. In this blog we will cover what is media training, what does media training involve and why is media training important.

What is media training?

Media training is a specialised form of training designed to help senior leaders, in-house comms teams, or spokespersons effectively communicate with the media. The training aims to teach people how to present themselves and their messages clearly, confidently, and compellingly when interacting with journalists, reporters, or during public appearances. 

Media training allows you to build confidence amongst internal press teams and spokespeople, to ensure you will retain stakeholder trust through clear messaging and avoid the risk of further exposing the organisation when under fire. 

Media training becomes especially crucial to have undertaken for leaders if a crisis hits their organisation. During a crisis, organisations go under the microscope and the risk of reputational damage is at its highest, hence why it is hugely important that any communications that go out at this time are expertly crafted and professionally delivered. Media training should be integral to wider crisis management training to ensure spokespeople and in-house teams have the skills and confidence to interact with the media effectively. 

Why is media training important?

Spokespeople and in-house teams will be expected to deliver messages urgently, sometimes under the bright lights of cameras, through the mic of a dogged reporter, or through the unforgiving channels of social media. At an already testing time, dealing with enquiries from journalists, providing statements to the press and undergoing hostile interviews adds further stress to those that do not have any press training. For those that have undertaken preparatory training, this will greatly alleviate some of this stress and make the situation much more manageable, decreasing the likelihood of ‘own goals’ and allowing them to present the best possible portrayal of their organisation at a difficult time. 

What does media training involve?

There are various forms of media training. The classic broadcast media training provides spokespeople the opportunity to prepare for the bright lights of studios and trickiness of interviewers in a controlled setting. The lessons learned here can also be amended for video call interviews, which are becoming increasingly common nowadays. Broadcast media training at Alder focuses on:

  • an explanation of techniques used by journalists which attempt to provoke emotional reactions, corner and confuse interviewees, and pressure interviewees to reveal more information than is required;
  • advice on body language, eye contact and tone of voice;
  • advice for spokespeople when dealing with culturally sensitive topics and strategies to address issues without appearing controversial, dishonest or coy;
  • intense mock interviews with one of Alder’s expert media trainers on a scenario related to a likely issue at your organisation.

Media training extends beyond the practical sessions for spokespeople, now in this digital age of 24-hour news and the relentlessness of social media it is essential that in-house comms teams understand how to handle media enquiries. Alder’s print media training courses focus on:

  • handling direct approaches from journalists over the phone or by email;
  • social media strategies and responding to direct messages to avoid mistakes such as oversharing, committing Contempt of Court and unknowingly confirming suggestive information;
  • how to spot journalistic bad behaviour, seeking amendments to unfair or untrue publications and making complaints to press outlets and bodies;
  • how to spot a ‘fishing expedition’ from a journalist;
  • how to handle doorstepping. 

Approaching media training in this way ensures that your organisation is fully prepared for the whole host of approaches you can receive and replies that you must give. So, you if you are finalising your business plan for 2024, or you are planning for the year ahead, then consider the importance of media training to build resilience and help you respond with confidence should issues occur.  

Alder has a range of crisis communications training and media training courses available for both junior and senior members of staff. We also build out bespoke training packages based on your organisations needs and have a strong network of media trainers to call upon at a moment’s notice. You can view more information on our media training services here. 

If you would like to learn more about Alder’s training services, you can contact [email protected] for more information.

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