media training

Media training: Journalists might not have an agenda!

I come across a lot of strange preconceptions in media training sessions – strange to me anyway. One of the biggies is that people often assume I’m up to something. This means one of two things: either they’re really getting into the interview role play exercise, or I seem really untrustworthy!

It goes something like this. We set a scenario – often I’m playing a journalist at a trade show who’s wandered onto the client’s stand. I introduce myself and ask something like “So, tell me about yourself and your organisation.”

This, believe me, is effectively a journalist clearing their throat. Which is why the reactions can be pretty odd.


A few years back I had a woman saying “Can we stop the exercise? I can’t answer that! Why would you want to know anything about me? What’s behind this?”

What was behind it was a journalist trying to find out who they’re talking to. A name and a job title, and preferably a one-sentence summary of what the company does, would have been admirable.

I’ve asked IT hardware companies how they distribute their goods, directly or through indirect sales channels, and they’ve seen an agenda creeping in and gone cautious. I’ve asked how long people have worked for a company and been perceived as being “up to something” and I’ve asked where a business is based and been told “I wondered what was behind that question”.

The answer is really simple. In most cases there’s nothing behind it, a journalist just needs to get their job done and any background information is on the “essential” side of welcome.


My first ever media training session was with Microsoft in 2002. It became apparent quite quickly that the delegate – with whom I’m still in touch – could tell me what he was trying to say after the exercise, but when the big bad “interview” word was in his head he flustered a little.

Is this you? Do you panic just a little and overthink every question when confronted with a straight question from a journalist? Try thinking again, they may not be as loaded as you or your client (if you’re in PR) thinks.

I can help you with your media interview difficulties – talk to me on the phone on the number on the side, email me by clicking this link or fill in the form below. I’ll look forward to coaching you – many thanks.

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