Media training is something I enjoy doing. Helping people shape the message they want to get into the press, broadcast or online media and offering the tools to make this message heard is a great thing. Generally. Occasionally, though, I’m asked odd stuff.
Media training has its ethics
Sometimes the odd stuff I’m asked veers into the downright unethical or impossible. So here are five things a decent media trainer will never promise or offer:
- We won’t, or shouldn’t, offer to write about you/your client immediately. I once had a solid-sounding lead for media training. The PR person involved said at the last minute that they would expect me to write about the client in the national press afterwards. Guys, if I’m coaching you and accepting a fee, I can’t pretend to the press that I’m an independent commentator. No ethical media trainer should write about you for several months after coaching you.
- We won’t encourage you to lie. Want someone to come in and train you on withholding key information from stakeholders? You need to look elsewhere. A good media trainer will help offer techniques to get away from difficult conversations. He or she will give you the confidence to say when something is confidential and you can’t comment. In no way should they encourage you to lie to the press – you’re bound to be found out eventually.
- We won’t claim there is a 100% foolproof way to get your message into the press. You present your case, you argue your point, we give you the tools and techniques to make the best of that. Unless you’re doing paid-for advertorial, however, no competent media trainer will offer any guarantees beyond that in the face of a free press. They can do what they want with the resulting interview. We will equip you with the best chance possible to put a positive case.
- We won’t arrange interview opportunities for you. This is the job of your PR company. I’ve been in training sessions in which people have asked me to get them into, say, the Financial Times. It’s been a few years since I’ve written for that paper so even if I were inclined to step outside the role of “journalist/trainer”, I wouldn’t know where to pitch.
- Related point: our contact book is our livelihood, not public property. One or two – a tiny amount – of clients seem to expect me to open up my contact book and hand over the names of all of the commissioning editors so that they can pitch to them. This is in most cases a step too far; if a trainer who is a current journalist had a reputation that suggested he or she would send loads of PR people pitching to an editor’s door after every training session, he or she wouldn’t be a journalist for long.
There’s a great deal to be gained from a media training session: confidence, an understanding of the media, the ability to meet us half-way, formulation of messages and preparation for an interview plus a lot of interview techniques – talk to me about them by emailing here. Understand that it’s a training/mentoring session and you should end up with a great session.