Media Training In PR: 10 tips on how to prepare for interviews

Published 04 / 26 / 2023

What is media training in PR?

Greetings! If you’re reading this chances are you’re on the hunt for more information on how a public relations agency can help clients prepare for media interviews. Look no further. This article is full of tips on the world of media training.

Media training is a service provided by public relations agencies to help clients effectively present themselves when interviewed by a journalist.

Training can be informal advice, or in-situ workshops to ensure clients are well-briefed on the art of the interview. Media training helps spokespeople do the best possible job and present their story in a positive, accurate light.

Why is media training important?

Media interviews are an excellent opportunity to promote a brand and its key initiatives. The better prepared a spokesperson is – with both the confidence and skills – the more successful they will be.

Many people find media interviews extremely intimidating. Preparation helps alleviate anxiety and demystify the experience.

Interviews are a two-way process. Both the interviewer and interviewee stand to gain. If a spokesperson provides compelling insights, facts and anecdotes, the interviewer will be happy.

Equally, if a spokesperson can ‘land’ a number of key messages with a natural and engaging approach, the brand earns coveted coverage from a respected 3rd party such as a print or online newspaper, magazine or from a broadcast outlet.

Almost all journalists will approach an interview wanting a good outcome that offers honest insight and expertise. That said, they will have nose for a good story and use investigative techniques to draw out content of interest to their audiences.

Knowing what to expect, and practicing can make the difference between a terrific interview and a disaster.

Who should get media training?

Anyone who expects to be interviewed by the media will benefit hugely from media training. For example, training is useful for brand or company spokespeople, experts and officials, opinion leaders and celebrities.

What should media training include?

An effective media training session will include:

  • Understanding the media outlet – its tone, audience and editorial focus
  • Message development – creating messages that are clear and on-brand
  • Interview techniques – staying on message, using anecdotes and proof points
  • Difficult questions – remaining calm, answering well, bridging from tough questions
  • Non-verbal comms – body language, eye contact, tone and appearance
  • Mock interviews – advance practice, feedback on performance
  • Crisis management – preparing for when issues arise, protecting reputation

Overall, PR media training should be tailored to the needs and expertise of the spokesperson, ensuring they are well-prepared to handle any media opportunities or challenges that may arise.

10 tips on how to prepare for interviews

1.    Define key messages

Develop bullet points of the information to be conveyed. These messages should be concise, hierarchical and delivered with confidence in alignment with an overall PR strategy. Repeat key messages, expressing them in new ways. Show empathy or praise others where appropriate.

2.    Anticipate questions

Know what a journalist might ask and prepare answers. An agency can inquire about discussion topics in advance and establish boundaries for ‘no go’ areas. Remember, in an interview everything said is potentially ‘on the record’, even if it feels like a personal chat.

3.   Practice & prepare

Do mock interviews with a PR firm to feel comfortable and confident during an actual interview. Read up on recent news in the wider sector to add context and relevance to comments. Don’t feel obligated to answer questions you don’t know or are not prepared for.

4.    Consider non-verbal communication

Body language impacts how a person is perceived in an interview. Practice good posture, eye contact, and appropriate gestures, especially for video interviews. Remember it’s the interviewers job to fill the silence, so don’t try to do that for them.

5.    Control tone of voice

The tone of voice can make or break an interview. Practice a natural, comfortable tone that is appropriate for the occasion. A bit of charm or humour can be a good way to steer clear of a topic you prefer to avoid. For example: “I wasn’t expecting that, you’re trying to get me in trouble.”

6.    Keep on message

It is important to stay on message and not get sidetracked by irrelevant or leading questions. Rehearse ways to redirect the conversation to key messages. Bridging and blocking techniques are ways to navigate back onto the topic. For example: “What I’m really here to talk about is this…” It’s more elegant than saying, ‘No comment.”

7.    Avoid jargon and keep it simple

Most audiences respond best to positive, everyday language and story telling. Keep it human and avoid using acronyms or technical terms that might confuse. Keep facts and figures to the essentials.

8.   Research the interviewer & audience

Do homework on the journalist and their media outlet to understand the perspective of the interview. This makes it easier to adjust language and tone accordingly. Likewise, be aware of the audience, to hit the mark by addressing their specific interests.

9.  Dress appropriately

There are many factors related to how a client dresses for an interview. For example a fashion brand will wear their own labels, and others will make apparel choices that fit the occasion. Stripes, patterns or distracting accessories can get in the way of a good interview.

10.  Follow-up

Post interview, an agency will provide feedback to help clients continue to improve performance for the future. Likewise, it is good to follow up with the journalist, particularly if the resulting article is favourable. Say thanks and keep up the relationship.

GSC & media training in PR: what we can do for you

Gabrielle Shaw Communications is a leading public relations agency based in London, UK. Amongst its many services, GSC offers media training as described above.

Practice sessions can take place informally for print or in real television studios for broadcast. GSC works with esteemed journalists who help make mock interviews realistic.

In addition to traditional media interview preparation, GSC works with clients on communicating on direct to consumer social media and digital marketing platforms. Media training will dovetail with a client’s brand and content marketing strategy.

Discover Gabrielle Shaw Communications

This article is brought to you by Gabrielle Shaw Communications, a London-based global communications and PR agency that partners with brands and entrepreneurs to unlock their purpose, shape perceptions and cultivate brand desire.

GSC has decades of experience with media training, as well as conceiving and activating communications and PR in sectors including Purpose & Sustainability, Luxury, Retail, Travel, Lifestyle, Beauty & Wellness, Food & Beverage, Interiors and Arts & Culture.

Interested in learning more about how Gabrielle Shaw Communications can help your business? Our team would love to chat. Get in touch.

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