It's an occupational hazard for communicators: Providing media training to senior managers and C-level executives who think they don't need it.
You know the drill. You get on the executive's calendar and have an hour or so to provide some media training. If the meeting is during the normal course of business, consider yourself lucky—most media training happens because the brand has launched a product or service and senior executives need to get in front of the media to try and sell it, ratcheting up the pressure on PR execs to deliver the goods.
Nonetheless, many PR execs find themselves trying to media train someone who thinks he has all the answers. Toss in how busy top executives are these days and media training makes for a difficult gig. To help mitigate these problems, take a look at these three tactics, compliments of Andy Gilman, president-CEO of CommCore Consulting.
- Know the content and challenging questions. Formulaic media training no longer cuts it. Counseling top executives to talk about their key messages even if they aren't really answering the questions fails to provide added value. That tactic will only work with reporters who lack an understanding of the subject, and it makes for a bad interview.
- Know the client's background and personality. Remember the Stephen Colbert line: "It's bigger than you and me, it's all about me." In the case of media training a senior leader, it's all about the individual. The trainer needs information about the particular executive. Get a bio, LinkedIn profile and, perhaps most important, find articles about and video examples of the executive. This is the equivalent of a physician who studying a patient's chart before conducting an exam.
- Be flexible and use the experience from prior work. Long gone are the days of a full-day media training session with three or four participants who learn the fundamentals and practice with two or three interviews, picking up pointers from colleagues and applying it to their material and personality. Everyone wants training in a compressed timeframe and promises that they will practice more on their own or with their PR team. A skilled trainer enters each session ready to adjust from the pre-session plan.
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1