Media Training

Why Anyone Can Benefit From Media Training

It’s not about answering a reporter’s questions — it’s about delivering your messages.

“The reporter is out to get me. I might say the wrong thing.”

These are excuses to avoid interviews. The truth is, most reporters are only trying to do their job — to get a story — and have no interest beyond doing it and beating a deadline.

Reporters often cite the public’s right to know to get answers. This can put you on the hot seat. Speakers who don’t know all the facts can say the wrong thing. Being prepared for the media helps eliminate both concerns.

The Marx Layne & Co. Media Training teaches you how to:

  • Think like a reporter
  • Anticipate the story a reporter is pursuing
  • Craft messages to answer almost any question
  • Deliver your messages in a clear, concise, impactful manner
  • Be pro-active in your company’s media and public relations efforts

What We Do

Our team of professionals includes former news executives, reporters and newsroom decision-makers who know how the media works from
the inside. Our training sessions emphasize real-world scenarios, placing participants from your health departments in likely interview situations that correspond with their individual training needs. These live training sessions are interactive, with customized, simulated interviews designed to reflect the actual experience of media interaction. Our training program will include:

  • Meeting with you to determine your communication priorities for each individual participating in the training, and to develop a structure for the session 

  • A media overview with brief summaries of print, radio, TV, Internet and social media. Each medium has distinct characteristics. It is important that these variables are discussed and understood by your leadership team and spokespersons
  • Exercises in message development. Preparation is the key to all successful media interaction. We will assist each person in identifying and developing the key messages that are critical to each interview
  • The approach to each interview can vary, depending on the medium. Part of our training includes presentation coaching with advice specific to each interview situation, whether it is print, TV or radio
  • Hypothetical scenarios are developed for each participant, consistent with each person’s responsibilities at the health department, as well as their specific training needs. As each scenario is presented to an individual, the group works as a team to prepare the key messages that person will utilize during the interview. These scenarios can be tailored for print, radio, or television interviews although all will be recorded with a video camera. The group has just six to seven minutes to prepare the person for the interview
  • Simulated interviews, developed in conjunction with you, and designed to mirror real-life circumstances. These allow training participants to experience much of what occurs during a media interview. Al Upchurch acts as the reporter and our videographer records all the interviews
  • Each interview is played back for review and critique in the group setting. We have found that this collaborative atmosphere enhances the learning experience for all media training participants

When asked what media training is, most people will say it’s for people who give a lot of media interviews. While correct, the more complete answer is that media training can help expand many communications skills. In the following video, Senior Vice President Al Upchurch talks about the value of media training for media interviews and beyond. Upchurch has 20 years of experience as a television news producer and manager, and 17 years of experience working on media relations and crisis communication initiatives for a variety of organizations.

A television interview can be intimidating but it doesn’t need to be. Television provides a great opportunity to support your brand and present a story or message to an audience that your organization needs to reach. It won’t transform your business but it can be important to your overall PR and marketing strategy. Marx Layne Senior Vice President, Al Upchurch, worked in TV News for many years and leads our media training team.  In this video he has some thoughts on how to be at your best in a television interview.

Here are five rules you should always adhere to when working with a reporter.

  1. Determine what the story is. When reporter calls ask what is the essence of your story? Why do you wish to speak with me? Who else will you be talking to for this story? Get as much information as you can. It may help you formulate the answers to the reporter’s questions.
  2. Request the questions in advance. Large newspapers and network TV won’t provide them, but smaller news organizations often will share the questions with you prior to the interview.
  3. Wait before interviewing. Do not answer questions when the reporter first calls. Tell her you can do it later. This gives you time to prepare some key messages you want to be sure you use during the interview. And stick to those key messages, especially when you get a questions you cannot or do not want to answer.
  4. Limit the interview time. If you agree to an interview limit it to a 15 or 20 minute window. Reporters will often monopolize your time and fish for information unrelated to the topic you agreed to discuss.
  5. Nothing is “off the record”. Make it standard practice that you will never go “off the record”. This is a murky area with many reporters, each with a different view of what it means. So here’s the rule. Nothing is off the record in the presence of a reporter. Finally, you may want to consider utilizing the services of a good public relations firm. They not only act as a buffer between you and the reporter, but those firms with good relationships with members of the media can often help insure a more positive outcome or story.

At Marx Layne, a Detroit, MI based PR Firm, we have conducted media training for Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States. It’s a big part of what we do. Check back for more media training tips in the weeks ahead.

In today’s fast-paced business environment it’s imperative for executives to know how to work with the news media. The news cycle is 24/7/365 and organizations need to be ready for the unexpected. In minutes a story is accessible worldwide on the internet. Knowing how to respond to the media properly is a crucial leadership skill and can often make the difference between success or failure, profit or loss, credibility or loss of reputation.

The Marx Layne media training team helps you define and deliver your key messages. We work with clients to identify, plan and polish messaging. We then help perfect the delivery so that the message is communicated clearly and concisely.

Our media training professionals are former print and broadcast journalists. They possess a proven track record of guiding senior managers through the techniques and disciplines needed for effectiveness in any interview situation. Our team constructs exacting, personalized scenarios that are relevant to the issues facing your organization and utilizes professional video and audio technology to prepare for virtually any media situation.

At Marx Layne, creating effective communications is what we do. For over 30 years, key management at Fortune 500 companies, large non-profit organizations, and leading law firms and litigators have retained our agency for media training sessions that demonstrate the importance of message development and confident interaction with the media.

If you would like to learn more about our media training programs please contact Al Upchurch at 248-855-6777 or by email.