Has the PR industry changed in the last ten years? It’s a stupid question. Of course it has. But there is one discipline which has not kept pace with the rapidly changing media landscape. Type ‘media training’ into google, and you’ll get incredibly similar results today as you would have a decade ago.
I’m a huge advocate of media training, having coached global CEOs, subject matter specialists, and influencers on their interactions with the media. I love seeing the transformation usually from cynicism or terror to confident spokesperson for a brand or organisation.
But I’m frustrated with how media training is sold and how little it seems to have progressed. There are hundreds of firms offering it, of varying quality, but there often seems little to set them apart. Interview skills are important, yes, but focusing purely on this is a one-dimensional approach to a multi-dimensional issue. All too often media training is positioned in a way that sets out to intimidate the spokesperson – ‘you NEED this or you’ll say something stupid to one of those devious journalists’. For me, this kind of approach fails to meet the mark in two ways.
Firstly, I strongly disagree with the kind of thinking that suggests a brand’s relationship with the media is based on one-upmanship. Trust and mutual benefit always serve both parties better.
And secondly, because media interviews just don’t happen in isolation. Your audience interacts with your brand in myriad ways. Delivering the perfect interview is meaningless if your spokesperson’s social media channels tell a different story; if the agenda for your all-company meeting doesn’t treat your internal audience with the same respect, or if your spokesperson makes an offhand comment after their keynote while their microphone is still turned on! Or simply if you’re making the same statement that your competitor did half an hour earlier.
Media interviews require a very specific and important set of skills, but should always be considered in the wider context of how your message is constructed, delivered and received. This is unique to each individual and to each organisation, and a copy and paste approach give spokespeople a false illusion of preparedness, which can set them up, if not to fail, then not to live up to their potential.
Since forming Tyto almost six months ago, we’ve had a number of clients come to us for spokesperson training, but we felt like ‘media training’ no longer sums up what they need, or what we deliver.
So today we’re launching Tyto’s Evangelist Training – a bespoke package of training modules that go far beyond media training to transform spokespeople into evangelists for their organisation. One that considers the message, your channels, and your presentation in all the ways that are most relevant to your business challenges. You don’t rely on one type of communication to build the reputation of your brand, so don’t rely on training that only considers one type of communication.
Don’t just train one-dimensional spokespeople, create evangelists.