Media Training – it’s not just for the spokesperson

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At a recent Public Relations Society of America program in my hometown of Birmingham, Ala., I had the opportunity to hear from a veteran communications professional in our city, Dave Perry. In the 1960s, Perry was news director for Birmingham's dominant Top 40 station in an era when radio was the only format available to cover breaking news. He spent his later years as assignment editor for a local television station, and during the years in between, he served as public relations director for Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located.

As Perry reflected upon his career, which spans more than 50 years in our city’s media scene, he made a point that hit home with me. Perry resonated one of our values at CCI when he mentioned that as public relations director for the county, he believed in the value of media training for key leaders. He wanted county officials to be connected with the media and well-prepared in how to respond, answer questions and communicate key messages.

While many things have changed over half a century, the foundation of a good PR program remains the same. Just like Perry’s plan for Jefferson County, a PR program should include media training for employees. Perhaps this principle is even more relevant today when social media has given a platform to every member of your company. Whether employees realize it or not, they represent your company wherever they go, especially on the World Wide Web.

In today’s age, everyone needs media training – not just the company president, spokesperson or communications director. Media outlets may have expanded and changed through the years, but team members nonetheless must be able to communicate your company’s key messages successfully.

The importance of media training holds true during good times and particularly during crises. Unfortunately, many companies have experienced the painful reality of dealing with the media during a crisis situation. No one likes to think about crises, but the companies that navigate them effectively have established a crisis communications plan well in advance of the emergency.

If you’d like to learn more about how media training for your company, including navigating social media pitfalls and establishing a crisis communications plan, let us know. We have training programs specifically designed to meet this important need felt by every company. Have a question related to media training? Send me an e-mail at Ashley.kizzire@aoeteam. I’d love to hear from you.        

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