We’ve got a few media training courses coming up in the next week or so, and here at Rough House, we’ve been busy with preparation.
So I thought it might be worth giving a short insight into how we go about planning and preparing for a training session.
The most important part of the process is the discussions we have with the PR and communications professionals in-house or at the agency who have commissioned us to design and run the course.
They know in detail what their organisation – be it charity, learned body, university or whoever – needs and the context of the training. And they know the trainees who they have decided should benefit for the training.
So the kind of questions we’ll be asking include (in no particular order):
1) Why have you decided to run the session?
2) Who are the trainees?
3) What is their experience of the media?
4) Why do you want to train them in particular:
Is it because you are launching a major campaign?
Are you preparing for a particular news story to break?
Do you want to increase the number of key spokespeople available to you?
Do you want to build a team of experts in your particular field to comment in the media?
Have they done interviews that have gone badly and requested training?
Have you faced a crisis and realised you need people confident enough to face a grilling?
5) What type of interviews are they likely to do?
Primarily local, national, specialist or regional press?
Mainly TV, print or radio?
Primarily over the phone, in a studio, on location?
Mainly soundbites or lives or for a documentary?
Mainly as an expert commentator or as a spokesperson to front up when your organisation is held to account?
6) What else do you want us to cover?
Do they need advice on presentation skills too?
Would you like a session focussing on crisis communications?
Should we cover social media?
Do you want to discuss key messages?
Would you like a brainstorming session to come up with potential story ideas?
Looking at this list, it sounds like rather a lot of questions to cover, but knowing the aims and context of the training and the background is crucial to making sure the course we design and run is the best possible fit for our client and their needs.
Once we’ve gone through all of this, we’ll go ahead and design a course and produce a briefing document for the trainers and interviewers who’ll be running the session on the day. Both of these we’ll share with the comms team for their comments, changes and additions.
We’ll then discuss the potential scenarios/subject areas for the mock interviews the trainees will have to go through.
These may be recent stories which the organisation has been involved in, they may be situations the comms team know are coming up – such as a big conference or the launch of a policy document or a new campaign – or, if the aim is to prepare for a crisis, the nightmare situation that keeps them awake at night.
Once these are agreed, we’ll get on with some background research and come up with a series of questions which again we run past the comms team for comments.
We always recommend the trainees know the scenarios in advance – after all they’d never go into an interview without knowing what it’s about – but they don’t see the questions.
We ask everyone to complete a pre-training questionnaire before the course which gives us a clue about what they’re expecting from it – and also an insight into how much experience they already have and how confident they are about different types of interview.
By this stage, we have a training schedule, a briefing, a series of mock scenarios with questions, so we’re good to go.
We’ll have booked premises, trainer, interviewer and camera operator so all that remains is to brief them and to arrive on the day, ready, and raring to go!
Do you have any more questions about how we run a session? Would you like help with media training? Would you like to see some sample schedules? Please give us a call on 020 8332 6200 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.