Media Training for an Evolving News Landscape

January 25 2024

Working in communications for more than three decades, I have seen firsthand how a strong spokesperson can impact the narrative of a story – whether that’s establishing thought leadership and shifting perceptions about a specific issue, resetting a reporter’s pre-existing negative bias, or simply building brand awareness through great storytelling.

However, for anyone who’s been in the media relations game as long as I have, they’ll tell you that big shifts in the media landscape and the way newsrooms are adjusting means that having a trained and prepared spokesperson is more important than ever before.

The business of news and media right now is in a constant state of flux. Even the world’s most reputable newsrooms are having to compete with and adapt to an evolving social media ecosystem.

Influencers, content aggregators and proliferation of fake news are changing the way audiences consume news and have added a new level of pressure for newsrooms to get the story right, while also publishing faster.

We’ve seen how that’s impacted our news industry; changing revenues have led to newsroom consolidation, the closure of news outlets and layoffs for journalists around the world. And for those media remaining, there’s an expectation to produce more content with less resources. Journalists are forced to cover a broad range of beats without the time and space to specialize and build subject matter expertise.

As I shared on this week’s episode of the PRGN Presents podcasts, what that means for brands and communications professionals is that media are relying on strong, reliable sources that can help bridge knowledge gaps and deliver thoughtful insights that their audiences (and editors) will care about – quickly and concisely.

Investing in media training will ensure that spokespeople understand the value of engaging with media, while getting their story and message across in a way that resonates with media and aligns with the brand’s communications objectives.

If you are engaging with media and interested in how media training can strengthen your message or help enhance your presence in interviews, here are some thoughts to consider:

Media Interviews Present Opportunities

Media interviews can be intimidating, and many trainees ask why bother engaging with media to begin with. Working with media gives you an opportunity to communicate with your audiences in a way that’s more authentic and trusted than any ad campaign or content marketing. Consumers trust the news and speaking to media keeps your story connected to the issues that the public cares about.

Understanding What Makes News

What might be news to you or your organization might not be news to media. Consider how to connect your story to topics of broad interest and what’s shaping public discourse. Assessing whether your message is timely, has big impacts on large industries or populations, or shows leadership can be a quick measure of newsworthiness.

Speaking to Your Audience

Media interviews aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Working with communications professionals will help you understand who is interviewing you, what they care about and who their audience is so you can adjust your messaging to connect, inform and support their stories. Media training helps identify the important information you want to your audiences to take away from a media interaction and how the format of an interview can help achieve your objectives.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Media training sessions are a safe space to build your confidence and provide you with the skills and techniques to deliver the story you want to tell. But most importantly, these sessions will drive home the value of practicing and rehearsing your message. You have something reporters want – information for the stories they want to tell. To be the most useful resource for them, practicing will ensure you’re providing the information they need in a way that is memorable (quotable) and repeatable.

Playing the Long Game

Think about your engagements with media as more than just interviews, but relationship building. Being active in telling your stories through the media will help influence how you are perceived, will keep you top-of-mind with your key stakeholders and create opportunities to connect with new audiences that want to learn more about your message.

As our media landscape continues to change, arming spokespeople with the right skills and training, while setting them up to seize the opportunity, is going to become even more essential for communications professionals that want to create meaningful engagements with media and establish stronger relationships with journalists and newsrooms.

If you enjoyed this episode, please follow the PRGN Presents podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or any other podcast app. We publish new episodes every other Thursday. To have them delivered automatically and free of charge, just choose your preferred podcast player from this list, open the app, and click the button to “Follow” or “Subscribe” to the show:

David Wills
Senior Vice President, Media Profile
David Wills understands the importance of strong narrative, clear messaging and compelling delivery. He draws on his natural storytelling abilities to help his clients find their voice and weave their messages together in a powerful way. After 20 years at Media Profile, David has become much more than just a storyteller; he’s now a trusted ally and respected advisor to his corporate and government clients. He has media trained CEOs and senior government bureaucrats, leaders of movements and causes, as well as high profile and aspiring politicians.

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