Gini Dietrich

The Big Question: Executive Media Training

By: Gini Dietrich | March 17, 2017 | 
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The Big Question: Executive Media TrainingAs PR pros, we are well aware of why we want executives to do media training.

Yet very few of them think they need it—or want to invest in it for their team.

In last week’s Big Question we asked you to share your tips and tricks for convincing reluctant executives to go through media training.

Here’s what you said.

Sell Them on the Benefits

Your executives are subject matter experts in their field, but that doesn’t mean they know how speak to the media.

At my last, full-time job with a company, my executive director wanted to be the spokesperson on every issue. The reporters, however, always wanted the science expert because he “gave great quote.”

It took a while to get my boss to understand that, while he was a great speaker, the outlets preferred the expert because of his ability to give a summation in one, pithy and amusing quote. Boss still didn’t like it, so media stopped coming when they couldn’t get the person they wanted. He realized the mistake, but by then it was too late.

Now, as an independent specialist, I explain they are paying me for my full-service. That includes training. Once the designated interviewee is given to me, I prep him or her before each interview.

While many of my clients are familiar with interviews, I simply explain that I have a day-to-day working relationship with the media and know the angle and time limit for what each needs. This has worked 100 percent of the time for getting them to agree to training.

While some may have pride as a hindrance to them getting the training, the “you are paying me for this, so get your money’s worth” usually does the trick. The final step, explaining my personal experiences with the reporter, is usually the last thing needed. — Elizabeth Dashiell

Even Confident Execs Need Media Training

Katie Kern shared four key points she uses to convince even the most confident execs they can benefit from media training:

You’ll learn when to stop talking. Keep in mind you don’t always have to fill the silence with more conversation.

You will be better at staying on message. Leveraging solid facts and interesting stories create a solid sound byte for the media. The easier you can convey, the more relevant you will be to your audience.

You can anticipate the tough questions and answer them easily. Every question isn’t easy to navigate. A trained executive can spot this and answer questions confidently.

Your body language matters. A trained executive knows communication is not only what comes out of your mouth, but also non-verbal cues such as hand placement, eye coordination, and posture. — Katie Kern

Show Them What Happens to Those Without Media Training

Another good way to convince an executive they need media training, is to show them what can happen in an interview session if they don’t.

Do a role play where you are the media, and do a complicated example. Hopefully pretty quickly they’d see they would do so much better with media training experience. — Rachel Formaro

I would show them what happens if they don’t.— Gerard Corbett

I’d just show him/her recent presidential news conferences. That should move anyone from a state of reluctance to resolve 😉 — Anneliz Hannan

Putting on video or mock interviews seems to really help. Also, review case studies of media appearances gone bad/well. — Sue Duris

Play to Their Egos

And if all else fails, it can’t hurt to play to their egos.

Getting Executives to consent to media training is a difficult challenge. Most executives are naturally eloquent and charming speakers which is why they are usually the executive, and they don’t inherently think they need the media support.

This makes getting them to consider the idea for media training very difficult, and in my experience of coaching high level executives, this perception makes them challenging clients. Unfortunately, the ability to speak extemporaneously, is exactly the reason an executive should media train.

The incentive is to encourage executives to not get caught off guard in any interviews as no executive ever wants to risk embarrassment for themselves or others.

Large companies have huge in house PR departments that painstakingly go over every word for a media release, so executives who do not have this infrastructure support REALLY need to harness their content, messaging, and speaking points.

In making the point to executives as to why they should do media training, we position the value by setting the executive up for outsmarting the interviewer—which most Executives like to be the smartest person in the room.

Another draw back is that executives get drunk on the fact that the media reaches out to them, which reinforces the misconception that they know the media game, but often times they are playing big fish in a small pond. — Jacquie Jordan

So We Hear You Like Buzzwords…

Just kidding!

We all hate buzzwords, even those of us who may be responsible for some creating and spreading them.

I’m looking at you tech PR pros, and all that disruption you keep talking about!

Ahem.

We already got your take on thought leadership.

And it showed that’s not the only buzzword you’d like to see erased from our vocabularies.

That’s why for this week’s Big Question we ask:

What is the most over-hyped PR buzzword and why?

You can answer here, in our Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

And let me incentivize you a bit: If you answer the question and we feature your answer, you get a follow link to your site. I’ll even let you choose which page you’d like us to link to. So get to answering!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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