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Why Media Training is so vital



Public perception can affect the way in which you, your company and your message is received for a long time. It’s 2015 and we are still hearing about the catastrophic, 87 day long, BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010, and the many ill thought out remarks to the media from their former CEO, Tony Hayward.

The one we all remember from Hayward is of course the “I’d like my life back” video that framed the worst accidental marine oil spill in history as simply an inconvenience to Mr. Hayward’s personal life. But Hayward also made inaccurate statements concerning the health and environmental impacts of the spill, undermining his statement at the start of his time as CEO to “focus like a laser” on safety.

These gaffes came at a period when BP had been working hard to clean up their public image after the deaths of 15 workers in the Texas City Oil Refinery explosion of 2006. Once again negative public perceptions of BP were reinforced, destroying any previous work BP had done to repair their image to reassure people they were no longer cutting corners with safety.

While this is seen as an organisational failing, damage to a personal brand from a bad interview can set the expectations for future interviews. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has entire YouTube channels dedicated to his media mistakes and is now making international news for them.

With highly media trained people making miss-steps like this, how can we even think media training is anything other than compulsory? Few people can recover without training when a spontaneous interview is demanded of you, and being caught out can have long lasting damaging effects.

Are you prepared for journalists who can be aggressive in the pursuit of a story? Being ill prepared for a hostile interview technique can leave you fumbling for words, or worse, coming off as uncooperative or belligerent yourself.

While this negative interaction is sometimes the case, it doesn’t have to be. Interviews can be a great chance for you to reassure stakeholders and the public, and update them on how a situation has been handled. As we said in the previous post, a lot of reputation management is about a timely response. So a timely and well-crafted message can enhance your brand and organisation just as much as an ill suited one can damage it.

As interviews can now be easily shared among radio, TV, print and online media simply through smart phone technology, being ready with your key points reduces the chances of having your message taken out of context in today’s world of short sound bites.

In times of crisis or agitation giving clear and concise responses gives confidence to the public and your stakeholders, allowing you to shape your message and deliver it with the most clarity. This is your best chance for your message to be interpreted in the way you want.

Even with strong messages it is important to keep in mind your method of delivery and body language, as these can undermine your meaning, as we saw from the headlines covering Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s repeated interruptions of female panelist Megan Smith, United States' Chief Technology officer, at a SXSW diversity panel. Though Schmidt was engaging positively in the discussion, by interrupting he was seen to be dismissive of Smith.

One wrong sound bite can be shared across multiple media platforms and so being caught unawares can have dire consequences for you and your organisation as people can chat online about you very easily, posting positive or negative remarks for all the world to see and scrutinise.

Media training is no longer an optional extra in our digitally connected world. To get you and your team media ready contact Briggs Communications at www.briggscommunications.com.au or on 03 9602 4310 during office hours.

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