The Strategic Imperative: Why Leaders Need Media Training Beyond Interviews

 In the dynamic landscape of corporate and non-profit leadership, effective communication is paramount. Leaders who can articulate their vision, values, and key messages with clarity and confidence are more likely to inspire trust, engage stakeholders, and enhance their organization's reputation. While media training is commonly associated with preparing for interviews with journalists, its benefits extend far beyond those interactions. In this blog post, we will explore why leaders of large corporations and non-profits should prioritize media training and delve into the comprehensive aspects it covers.


The Strategic Importance of Media Training

  1. Crisis Management and Reputation Protection:

Media training equips leaders with the skills to navigate challenging situations, especially during crises. A prime example is the case of Dave Calhoun, CEO of Boeing, who is currently on a media tour effectively addressing concerns, providing reassurance, and protecting the organization's reputation in response to the Alaska Airlines incident. 

  1. Effective Internal Communication:

Leaders need to communicate not only externally but also internally. Media training teaches the C-suite how to convey complex messages to employees, fostering a sense of unity and understanding within the organization. Jane Fraser, CEO of CitiGroup, successfully utilized media training to enhance internal communication in the midst of a restructuring. She admitted the changes were “going to make some people very uncomfortable.” By immediately addressing the elephant in the room, difficult conversations can become more manageable. 

  1. Investor and Stakeholder Relations:

Articulating a compelling narrative to investors and stakeholders is crucial for securing support. Media training helps leaders refine their messaging to ensure that it resonates positively with key audiences. Disney CEO Bob Iger is a perfect example of walking the line between stakeholders and end customers when he gives statements. An interview with CNBC after his reappointment is a lesson in media training - clear sound bytes, witty while serious, and communicating with direction.  


What Media Training Covers

  1. Message Development and Delivery:

Leaders learn to craft and deliver messages that align with their organization's goals. This includes honing key talking points and addressing potential areas of concern.

  1. Crisis Communication Strategies:

Media training prepares leaders to handle crises by providing strategies for effective communication during turbulent times. This includes managing public perception and maintaining transparency.

  1. Handling Tough Questions:

Leaders often face challenging questions, both from journalists and stakeholders. Media training teaches techniques for responding to tough questions with confidence and poise, avoiding potential pitfalls.


Situations Where Media Training Pays Off

  1. Handling One-On-One Situations: 

Stakeholders can be anywhere and in today’s landscape, they are more empowered to ask the tough questions all the time. Media training prepares leaders for situations outside of interviews by providing them with the answers or techniques they need to properly respond. 

  1. Everyone is a Videographer: 

Smartphones and social media have created a world in which anyone can share video to a mass audience at any given time. A properly trained executive will be better prepared to stay out of trouble and maintain composure in situations that can be easily recorded. 

  1. Employee Relations: 

The ability to answer a hard question or deflect to the question you wish you had been asked can be an invaluable skill in maintaining and strengthening relationships with employees.  Heck, it can even be applied to your spouse and children. Leaders report to numerous stakeholders and those that are correctly media trained will be able to rally support for their vision through effective communication. 

In today's media-saturated world, leaders must be adept communicators across various platforms. Media training is an invaluable investment that goes beyond interview preparation, encompassing crisis management, internal communication, and stakeholder relations. By honing these skills, leaders can navigate the complexities of their roles with confidence, ultimately contributing to the success and resilience of their organizations.


About the Author

Katherine Doble is the president and founder of INGAGE. Since founding the firm in 2011, Katherine has developed award-winning social media and online campaigns for all sizes of organizations, from top Fortune 500 companies to privately-owned businesses. 


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