Media Relations

The Value of Spokesperson and Media Training in Organizations

This week, Sinclair founder, Chris Sinclair, delivered the first media training of 2020 to members of the NC REALTORS® in Charlotte, NC. While many different organizations build relationships with the media, it is vital that key players in your organization have the appropriate training to address difficult questions and convey your organization’s message. 

“Is it an assistant to the President?” he asked. I again told him I couldn’t say. “O.K., I’m going to fire every one of them, and then you haven’t protected anybody, so the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks.”

– Anthony Scaramucci to Ryan Lizza

In office for all of 11 days, Anthony Scaramucci’s brief tenure resulted in several massive blunders for the Trump administration’s media relations. Scaramucci’s experience in the finance sector made his appointment as the director of communications such an odd choice. 

A spokesperson must act as the first line of defense for an organization- gracefully handling tough questions from the public and members of the press. Addressing the media is not a task someone picks up overnight, but rather a strategic process of communication and deliberate training. Without this education, the public face of your organization may have monumental gaffes like Scaramucci, or worse. 

Unlike social media, you do not have complete autonomy about the final statements the media choose to publish. Members of the press can be very daunting, and with journalists consistently overworked and underpaid, their lines of questions are more aggressive and direct than ever before. It is critical that media training prepare you and your organization to stay on message and not waiver under pressure. 

Your media relations team might draft press releases, or set up press conferences, but nobody should speak directly to the press without proper training and a clear, concise message to convey. 

Here are some spokesperson tips for handling the media, and getting your message across to the public:

1. Know who you’re talking to

It’s important to understand what drives each platform. T.V., radio, internet and print all have different dynamics. Some mediums are especially visual, so make sure that you and your team have photos, videos or other visuals to share. If speaking with a specific member of the press, make time to quickly review their previous reporting to ensure you know how they report and the extent of their knowledge of your industry or issue. Try to tailor your message to the audience and idea they already operate in. 

2. Prepare and deliver a strong message

The most important part of preparing for the media is building a good message. Your message should be clear and concise. It is often best practice to build three main points around your key message to help keep you on point. When delivering your message, maintain strong eye contact and stand up straight, all while conveying confidence.  Remember; tell the media what you’re going to tell them, and then tell them again, and then tell them again. 

3. Close and follow up

After delivering your key message, offer a summary of your main points. If you can, ask questions about the topic and try to get an understanding of what the reporter took away from your statements. If you are on a panel or news program, always try to get your last word in. If possible, follow up with the reporter a few days later to see if they have any additional questions or need any more information. 

For more tips and tricks to keep the media on track, build a strong message, or learn critical interview techniques, contact Sinclair Public Affairs at contact@sinclairpublicaffairs.com to set up a media and spokesperson training for your organization. 

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