Media Training – the Do’s and Don’ts


Many organizations welcome the opportunity to be highlighted with positive media attention, broadcasting their brand message among the target audiences. Conversely, there are also instances where organizations must face negative media attention, defend their brand, actions or operations tactfully in front of the court of public opinion. In both instances, when faced with media attention, its important for your organization’s leadership or spokesperson to be well versed and trained in media interviews.

At a recent event hosted by the Public Relations Society of America, Maryland Chapter (@PRSA_MD), our strategists exercised their media training skills, keeping abreast of the latest trends. We’ve shared a few of the basic points to keep in mind when preparing for media encounters. A good rule of thumb – consult your agency to develop a thorough media strategy, preparing you for positive or negative questions and appropriate responses.

Five steps to preparing for a media interview:

  1. Research the reporter/outlet prior to the interview
  2. Develop your core messages
  3. Prepare specifically for difficult questions
  4. Have your last question response ready – “I’d like to add…”
  5. Offer to provide additional information and have it on hand or readily available

The art of a good sound bite:

  • Make it locally relevant
  • Stay specific to your target audience
  • Offer something different – breaking news
  • Set up a visual
  • Provide an anecdote, analogy or third party endorsement

Do’s during an interview:

  • Be friendly
  • Translate technical terms
  • Build the relationship
  • Ask questions back
  • Provide follow up

Don’ts during an interview (and a few examples of an effective response):

  • Never say “no comment” (“I’m sorry I can’t respond to that question, but I can address..”)
  • Don’t go beyond your expertise (“I can’t speak to that but I can tell you…”)
  • Don’t speculate (“Here are the facts as I understand them…”)
  • Don’t bash the competition or complain (“Our company values dictate…”)
  • Avoid using or repeating negatives
  • Never go “off the record”
  • Avoid taking the bait (“Actually, contrary to that thought…”)
  • Don’t answer hypotheticals

If there is a media interview in your future or you’re looking to garner media attention, be sure your brand and your spokesperson are properly prepared. Need a little more training? Call one of our media experts for an in-depth media training session.

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