Why your official spokesperson isn’t the only one who needs media training

Erik Bernstein media training Leave a Comment

Is a lack of preparedness for media interest leaving you vulnerable to crisis?

So you have an official spokesperson and they’re media trained to the point that they’d get your message across no matter what the situation. That’s a valuable asset to be sure. But, are they the only one who needs media training?

The short answer is no, and let me explain why.

  1. The definition of ‘media’ has changed. A media interview today doesn’t necessarily need a reporter is involved at all. An angry stakeholder recording your answers to their questions can quickly grab public attention by using YouTube and other social media platforms to amplify their reach. This means anyone representing the official word from your organization could suddenly become the spokesperson with no warning – including your social media managers.
  2. The skills learned in media training translate well to tough face-to-face conversations. It may not be recorded, but does that make a conversation with a key individual any less important? Most widespread organizations can’t have their primary spokesperson at every meeting, which means responsibility for swatting down potentially damaging rumors or correcting misinformation in face-to-face conversations falls on the shoulders of whoever might be local to the situation.
  3. You don’t always get to choose when an interview happens. When something goes awry there are no rules for when or how reporters can approach your organization. They can (and frequently do) show up at whatever local address they find to start asking questions of anyone who will answer. Often they find a well-meaning but untrained employee who wants nothing more than to defend their employer – just the subject investigative reporters love to lead into making the type of wrong-way statement that winds up in the headlines.

The good news is that we are seeing more organizations becoming aware of the need to media train a number of key employees. In media training sessions over the summer we had the usual mix of official spokespeople, but we also saw a major influx of regional managers, office managers, social media staff, and sales reps just to name a few. The bad news is that an alarming number of organizations have completely untrained people are being put in the role of official crisis spokesperson. We’ve even heard stories from “spokespeople” who had no idea they were assigned that role on the crisis team!

If you’d like to learn more about how media interviews and media training work check out our free media training manual, Keeping the Wolves at Bay. And, if you’d like to learn more about media training services offered by Bernstein Crisis Management, contact us today.

Erik Bernstein


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