Often viewed as the domain of the business world, media training can be an asset for any organization that wants regular communication with the press, radio and TV. But isn’t that all about just making weird phone calls and chatting about what’s new ?? This article discusses the benefits of affordable, DIY media training to help achieve media success.

More than just a press release

Media relations are exactly that ongoing relationships that benefit both parties.

Whatever the size of your company, there are a number of situations that can trip you up. Here are a few scenarios to consider:

An employee takes a call from a reporter and gives good meaning but invalid quotes taken out of context. This could take the form of several comments responding to a competitor’s product announcement – which resulted in a very general battle of words between the two companies. Or, an off-the-cuff about your latest financial statement can cause your shareholders to make a limit to the CEO’s office!

Whatever the story line, the risk of this ad hoc conversation is a setback for stakeholders, the press and relations with employees, so a good starting point is to assess your current situation. A review may come with comments such as ‘we don’t have media relations’ or ‘we make contact sporadically through press releases’ through to ‘we generate a lot of activity but don’t seem to get much traction’.

If your media relations approach something similar to this situation then low cost (even free!) Internal training is worth considering. First, decide who has the company knowledge, authority and persona to carry out an important role. Don’t assume that the most senior exec is automatically the best-faced choice with their first press interview, an otherwise experienced CEO can ‘freeze’ as well as anyone!

Control the message

Next, plan and schedule your message for the coming months and even years. It provides a controlled platform for reviewing potential topics that are suitable to be brought to the press. This will be divided in a number of choices – press releases, white papers and articles – covering anything you feel comfortable with for example a new product, a company perspective on new technology or an analysis of your current trends.

Display editor-just ask!

Using this theme as a basis, consider approaching a local editor to do some role playing with you. You will be surprised how cost-effective this half day can be, as a Chosen Spokesperson you get the chance to, yes, get it wrong-but at least behind closed doors!

By asking the editor for the ‘Dry Run’ interview, you will also be able to assess who enjoyed the whole thing and will be a safe pair of hands at the next trade show, product launch or just a regular round-ring journos targeted.

The editor can also help your team understand how the media works and what they are looking for from a story-remember, they are not enemies! Armed with this Insider perspective, you are in a far better position to start a communication program.

Hit the road

The next step is to determine which magazines and websites bring stories and news that are relevant to your Guangshun sector. A quick trawler across the web will soon build into a contact list of editors and reporters (including freelancers).

A quick phone call will introduce you and your company, while opening a dialogue about what’s hot. By adding every reporter’s needs and interests to your schedule, you will immediately kick out of a disciplined communication campaign.

In future articles I will go into some of these initiatives in more detail, such as different types of media and using them, press relationships and how to keep them going, plus the importance of preparing answers to difficult questions!