Imagine this scenario: you’re a leader in your nonprofit, and your phone rings. It’s a journalist, and they want to interview you about an issue your organization works to improve. Are you ready to talk to them right now?
If your answer is “no,” you’re not alone. If you haven’t had media training before (or if you haven’t practiced in a while) that should be your answer.
Anyone in your organization who you want to position as a thought leader needs training in media and messaging. Thought leaders (experts who speak and write with authority on an issue or set of issues related to your organization) are owners of their op-eds, speeches, and other content. Message training covers that (and we’ll discuss message training in an upcoming post). But jump back to our earlier scenario — what about when a media outlet calls for a quote in one of their articles? That’s where media training comes into play.
Through media training, our JR Communications team makes sure that your thought leaders can best represent themselves and your organization.
What is media training?
Even thought leaders who are naturally comfortable in front of the camera need media training. It’s a skillset that is taught.
Media training offers preparation, practice, and insight. By media training your thought leaders, they prepare for working with the media by learning what to expect, how to frame key messages, and how to handle unexpected or difficult questions. Further, they get practice — practice responding to questions and therefore an opportunity to evaluate their responses and flag areas of improvement. And what about insight? Well, experienced media professionals are able to offer insight into different media outlets and how to identify media opportunities.
Why is it important for your thought leaders to be media trained?
We know that the nonprofits we work with want their thought leaders to leverage their insights to advocate successfully for their organization’s causes. How do they do that? By shaping important conversations in their fields, by providing compelling information, and by persuading people to take action.
All of this is more likely to happen if your thought leaders are getting media attention. And there are important reasons why you want the people getting that attention to be media trained:
1. Improved Success of Thought Leadership
Successful thought leaders have the following qualities in common:
- They communicate their credentials and what makes them authorities.
- They capture the attention of their audience.
- They shape conversations and provide valuable insight in their fields.
- They persuade their audience.
Media training makes sure that when a journalist calls (or emails, tweets, etc.), your thought leaders will have these qualities.
Another plus? When your thought leaders have these qualities, journalists will reach out to them again because they will rely on you as a trusted source… earning your organization opportunities for media placement over and — ideally — over again.
2. Increased Reach of Messaging
Successful interviews and interesting quotes travel wide. Your organization can capitalize on each piece of earned media by resharing through your own communication channels. Earned media adds credibility to your organization and likewise your messaging.
In media training, your thought leaders can learn how to frame your messaging effectively when they talk to the media. Maybe they’re already able to share that messaging in their own writing, but they need to know how to do that when they don’t have complete control.
3. Protection For Your Organization
Just as a successful story can spread quickly, a negative story can spread quickly too. Negative stories range the gamut. An honest gaffe may only have short-lived attention, but a larger misstep could cost your organization a lot of the trust it’s already earned. And you can cut down on the chances of that happening by preparing your thought leaders with media training! Your organization will save itself extra work and challenges by having thought leaders who won’t miscommunicate.
By media training your thought leaders, they will be able to reinforce your messaging instead of undermining it.
Our experience at JR Communications proves that media training is an essential piece of a thought leader’s toolkit. We’ve worked with a variety of thought leaders to help them best represent themselves and their organizations, so we know firsthand that effective thought leaders are an invaluable part of a nonprofit’s communication strategies. To be effective, your thought leaders need media training.
Stay tuned, because we’ll be discussing message training and the importance of centering messaging in your communications strategy in a blog post coming soon!