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By Jennigay Coetzer

media interview-2

If anyone says they were quoted out of context in the media, there is an 90% chance that it was their fault, due to lack of clarity, assumption, running on from one thought to another, and other factors that boil down to miscommunication during the media interview.

Media training helps spokespeople to interact with journalists and other media interviewers more effectively.

A good media trainer who is also an experienced journalist will be able to give insight into what the media look for in a good spokesperson and provide them the techniques that will help them become one.

The right form of training will equip spokespeople with techniques that will help them anticipate any eventuality in any interview scenario, prepare accordingly, organise their thoughts, and share knowledge clearly and concisely in a two-way discussion with a media interviewer.

In addition, they will learn to develop tactics to handle awkward or sensitive questions that could arise during media interviews and how to avoid their comments being quoted out of context.

They will also learn how to develop a broader, more visionary perspective of the trends and issues that revolve around the topics they are discussing in media interviews, from the audience’s perspective as well as their own. Having developed these techniques they will be in a better position to be viewed by journalists as an interesting, relevant, forward thinking, credible source of information.

The right training will also help spokespeople to use their media interaction to create a pull through for business, influence specific audiences, and meet other objectives. Anyone who interacts with the media or is planning to do so will benefit from media training.

Being interviewed by the media is always a balance between opportunity and risk, and any spokesperson who interacts with the media without proper training is putting their company at risk.

Natural spokespeople do exist, but they are few and far between. Interestingly, these spokespeople are usually the first to jump at the chance of honing their media interaction skills. At the other end of the scale are those who spurn the suggestion of media training because they consider themselves to be great spokespeople already with no room for improvement.

Meanwhile they are often the worst spokespeople to interview, due to their inflated egos, arrogant, know-it-all attitude, superficial knowledge, and a tendency to speak at the journalist and go into presentation mode instead of engaging in a two-way conversation.

Jennigay-whitecliffs-5Jennigay Coetzer is a freelance business and technology journalist with 25 years experience, and she writes regularly for Business Day. Email Jennigay at jennigay@icon.co.za for more information about her upcoming writing skills workshops or connect with her on LinkedIn. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not?, a guide to writing press releases, can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za, where you will also find plenty more Media Training Tips.


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