We have all seen the sort of car crash interviews that make us grip the sides of the chair and wince in vicarious horror and embarrassment. These usually occur when either the wrong person has been put up as a spokesperson, the interviewer is pushing a line of enquiry for which the interviewee has no answer, or the interviewee is so nervous they either freeze or start behaving oddly. Most CEOs will have been media trained but in our view, there are enormous benefits to getting your whole leadership team to agree to be media trained.
1. Additional skills
Media training does not involve simply being told not to look down the lens of the camera or pause too often. Good media coaching should cover not just what to say to the media but also how to say it, which in turn should help your team hone a variety of different skills, from public speaking to body language and controlling nerves. These skills have huge benefits in all kinds of environments from job interviews to presentations and networking. In our view media training for executives should be part of their personal development plan, and in our experience, the executive team members themselves are keen to have the training if it’s offered.
2. Defining your key messages
If you ask any media coach who has provided media or presentation coaching for executives, they will confirm that each member of the executive team will answer a question like “tell us a little bit about what your company does” slightly differently. This isn’t a problem per se, but it does become a very large problem when the answers differ wildly between team members. Part of media training 101 is to identify the key messages that your executive is going to focus on; the messages they want their audience to hear and retain. Drafting these, getting them signed off and using them as the basis when delivering media training to the entire team means everyone has the same script and you minimise the chances of anyone going rogue when they’re faced with a live mic.
3. Why not just the CEO?
As we stated earlier CEO media training is common, but in our experience restricting media training to the CEO only is a bit of a gamble. What if you move into a crisis comms situation and the crisis involves the CEO themselves? Someone else is going to have to do the talking. What if there is an incident which is picked up for real time coverage and other members of staff are interviewed on the spot? Crises don’t hang around for the appropriate member of staff to be available. By training the entire leadership team you can feel reassured that whatever the circumstances you’ve got someone there who understands the key messages and will represent your organisation in a suitable light.
4. Untapped potential
Very often in media training the trainer will discover a dark horse, someone who appears introverted or shy or is in a back-room role but blossoms in front of the camera or mic. Suddenly, the CEO is looking at them in a new light and working out how to maximise their talent in presentations. Everybody wins in that situation and that person would have continued unsung had they not had the training. You’re only going to find out if you’ve got a potential TED Talk-er lurking in your senior management team if you give them all a try-out.
5. Uncovering issues
One of the aspects of media training that does not get mentioned often is its ability to highlight problems in the key messaging or the marketing collateral. If everyone in a senior leadership team struggles to explain a certain aspect of the business or fails to sound convinced by it themselves then that highlights a lack of clarity in the comms that needs addressing. Media training will also show up out of date marketing collateral or key messaging that no longer feels ‘right’. It’s a simple fix by the comms team but failing to address it can lead to people going off script in their messaging.
So, we hope we’ve convinced you, and your executive team, that you need media training. It’s a small outlay but if you don’t do it, the cost to your organisation can be immeasurable.