One of the things I always ask my media training delegates is why they felt they needed to go through the process and what they wanted out of it. There are two reasons for this: first and most importantly it helps me to tailor the session on the hoof for the majority of the participants. Second, it is a good way to unmask the bad candidates. These may not be the ones you’d think.
Some facilitators don’t like the quiet delegate in the corner. I don’t mind that so much; often “quiet” is the noise they make when they’re listening and thinking. They may be taking everything in. No, the ones I don’t like fall into two categories: ogres and overconfidents.
I meet very few of the first category, in fact only a couple so far. The first time, the day didn’t start well; I’d forwarded my slides to the PR person who’d commissioned me for the day and he’d put them into his company font (fine) and layout (no problem) and then at the end had a copyright notice crediting his organisation.
That’s a bit of a no-no when it’s someone else’s work. He took it off, but this was as nothing compared to his client. There was a team of five people, led by the MD who said he was there to support them. Then every time I asked a question in a dummy interview and had an answer from one of the more junior people, the MD told them he’d sack them on the spot if they ever said anything like that to a journalist.
As you’ll gather, he wasn’t a great advert for his company. On the second occasion, the MD clearly didn’t want to be there and made it plain that he had no time for journalists, then started clearing up the room ready for another meeting when I was only half way through. My feedback to the PR company was that the press interaction might not be the company’s biggest communications problem; the response was that they were aware of this.
I also come across people who don’t think they need media training but who aren’t necessarily ogres. They are pleasant enough people who’ve been sent to see the trainer because their manager told them to, but they don’t see why they should bother. Sometimes they make a huge mistake without realising it.
One guy presented to me at an actual interview rather than a media training session. He was pushing an early Internet device; we spoke in (I think) June and he explained it came with a month’s free connectivity. Meanwhile, he told me, he’d organised a new deal so that as of February the following year customers would get indefinite free connectivity.
I approached his PR company offering messaging sessions and media training. His response was that he didn’t need it and he was surprised I should think he did; he clearly hadn’t spotted that he’d just told me to tell my readers not to bother buying his products for six months.
On another occasion I had feedback suggesting I’d been too basic in my approach and that the delegate was more advanced than I’d given him credit for. This was interesting because he’d told me he’d spoken to a major national newspaper for half an hour only the previous week, offering a massive amount of background technical information which the paper used, and managed to keep his company’s name out of the press.
Let’s get this straight: half an hour of his company’s time, the paper uses the information and his organisation gets no credit, no publicity, no website link – and he thought that was good use of his time? His boss or his shareholders might not be quite so sanguine.
Obviously I’m biased because I’m a media trainer. But if someone has suggested you need help in this potentially fraught area, they might just be right- I’d be pleased to discuss how I can contribute.
Do you need media training? Click here to read about my offering or call on 07973 278780