“Isn’t doing media training a bit like cheating in an exam?” It’s a question I’m regularly asked. A resounding ‘no’ is always my reply. “Well you would say that wouldn’t you?” is the next response, “You make a living out of telling people what to say!” That is one of the biggest misconceptions about interview training. A good media trainer will not help you with what to say, but rather how to say it.

But let’s not forget that not all media training companies are equal. Retired or ex journalists often have a treasure trove of amusing anecdotes – with themselves usually centre stage. Whilst that can be highly entertaining to listen to, will it help you or your company when the chips are down?

I set up my business nearly 19 years ago after working several years for London’s leading media training company. When the owner (and my mentor) retired, it felt like the right time to go it alone. It was scary at first but I’ve never regretted it.

I’ve been working with the same journalists and camera crew since those early days. Always reliable, totally professional and 100% trustworthy – vital when you’re dealing with commercially sensitive material.

During the pandemic we saw how experts, who often operated in the background, were suddenly finding themselves thrust into the spotlight. The challenges of working from home and specifically being interviewed from home were vast. Who can forget the mischievous cat casually strolling over the interviewee’s keyboard?

Particularly during times of crisis, your media spokesperson needs to set the right tone right from the start. But how do they do that? The key thing is to have the following points in mind – put people first, context next – only then should the company be mentioned. If you can recall any decent handling of a crisis situation, you will find that it was received so well due to the above thought process.

The Whistle PR team is your eyes and ears in the media world and should play an integral part in your strategy. They are vital in enhancing and protecting your brand. They have the ability to view your change of management, new product launch or bad news story with a seasoned eye. Often business leaders are just too close to the subject matter to be able to ascertain how the news, whether good or bad, will be received by an ever watchful and cynical public. This is where your PR advisor comes into their own; they have extensive knowledge of how a journalist works, what they’re looking for in a story and may be able to second guess how a particular journalist might react based on their previous articles.

Setting aside a day to experience what it would really be like to face a rigorous interviewer is never time wasted. In fact, it is undoubtedly one of the most important and worthwhile types of training you could ever do.

I’d go as far as saying that it’s the gift that keeps on giving; the skills learnt often have a beneficial knock on effect – by helping you to communicate more effectively both in your working and personal life

I will sign off with my retired mentor’s favourite adage – “If you fail to prepare; then you should prepare to fail.”

About the Author

Marilyn Tyler is the Director at MT Media Training who provide tailor made media training courses. For more information visit www.mtmediatraining.co.uk