Be Prepared, Be Professional: Why Media Training is Necessary

Are you a company CEO, president or communications manager who regularly speaks in front of crowds? Do you know your industry and topics inside and out? If so, speaking with the media about what you know should be easy, right? Wrong.

Even experts need help in getting their message across to reporters in the most positive and effective way. Media training helps organize tone, thought and delivery. When speaking to the news media, preparation is critical and should not only be reserved for a crisis.

Here are five media training tips to help your interview:

No. 1: Tell a Story

stacked books, storytelling

People are visual. Give them a memorable story and it’ll remain etched in their minds. Plan what to say and practice saying it in short, concise statements.

No. 2: Be Prepared 

taking notes

Reporters often throw curveball questions. Be ready to answer them while maintaining composure. Practice delivering key messages while staying calm and poised.

No. 3: Look Sharp

wearing a suit

Eighty percent of communication is non-verbal. Body language can tell much more than the spoken word. Non-verbal cues can even contradict what is being said. Be confident and dress for the occasion. Maintaining good eye contact and pausing briefly before answering a question communicates sincerity and helps the interviewee organize information before speaking.

No. 4: Focus the Message


As the company’s thought leader and expert, determine three main ideas to convey in the interview. Stick to those key messages.

No. 5: Know What Reporters are Looking For 

studying in bed

Do your homework and look for interesting facts that will attract a reporter’s attention. Show the reporter you are a knowledgeable resource and want to help them. This will build rapport and a respectful relationship with a journalist.

As a former journalist, I have interviewed thousands of people, including business and industry leaders. Good interviewees are eloquent, knowledgeable and succinct.  The worst ones stumble, sound dry and appear ill-prepared. Poor interviews affect the individual’s and company’s credibility.

Media training is a must for anyone who might be asked to speak for their organization. The payoff? Establishing yourself as a go-to subject matter expert and raising the positive perception of your company’s brand.

Five Tips from the News Media: How to Increase Trust

News Media - How to gain trust

Americans have definite views about news and who we rely on to deliver it. As a broadcast journalist who anchored news and sports programs for forty years, I know how important it is to act with integrity and show respect for viewers and listeners. They are quite particular about whom they invite into their homes each day through television or radio, and wise journalists take that relationship seriously if they want to last in the news business.

During my career, including 25 years reporting and delivering news on Oklahoma’s statewide public television network, I knew I was being judged by how I conducted myself every day and whether viewers trusted the news and information we presented. Trust takes much effort to build and can quickly be lost.

A recent study by the Media Insight Project, a partnership of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, bears this out. It shows news consumers – the people who watch news on TV, listen to it on the radio or read it in newspapers or online – pay more attention to news from organizations they trust.

The report focuses on traditional media journalism, but contains lessons each of us can learn to become more trusted – and more valued – communicators. The study shows dedication to these five principles will increase trustworthiness:

  • Eighty-five percent of adults say accuracy is a critical reason they trust a news source. Getting the story right is the most important factor in gaining trust, regardless of the topic. Providing in-depth information and reliable data increases perceptions of accuracy.
  • Consumers want their news fast…and complete. Seventy-six percent said having the latest details is critical. Organizations that are quick to answer key questions and deliver important details are seen as more trustworthy.
  • Familiarity and openness in reporting methods increases communicator’s trust scores. News consumers are more likely to trust reporters and news outlets they know. Explaining how information was gathered and reported boosts confidence in reporters and builds trust.
  • News consumers appreciate diverse viewpoints presented fairly. They also want to see stories about people like themselves. Finding the right balance of delivering content they can relate to while exposing them to other ideas shows the communicator respects them and appreciates fair play. Most people like that.
  • Overall, the research shows presentation ranks lower than other key trust factors, but Americans definitely want information that is easily understood. Seventy-two percent said it is very important news be concise and to the point while 67 percent say in-depth coverage is extremely or very important. Entertainment and convenience also improve the level of trust in presentation. Increasingly, ease of navigation on a website or app matters to digital users who want to be able to multi-task while they take in news content.

One of the most gratifying aspects of being a journalist is hearing from people who appreciate what you do and how you have made a difference in their lives. Think how powerful that kind of testimonial would be for your business or organization.

Just as news consumers are loyal to journalists they trust, clients and customers typically prefer to work with people they know, respect and trust. So, as you develop your own communications plans, remember, focusing on trust will help your business rise above the crowd and lead to rewarding long-term relationships. Make building trust a top priority in your personal and professional strategy and you will see positive results.