At a media training that MGH COO Chris McMurry and I conducted for a group of executives a few weeks ago, one of the principals participating turned to us halfway through and said, “We should have done this a long time ago.”
Too often, businesses put months of effort and tons of precious marketing budget into crafting and telling a brand story that even CEOs struggle to recall when put on the spot, to say nothing of the rest of the leadership team or in-the-field staff, like, say, a franchisee.
Your leadership team is the face of your business to the media, and staff or franchise owners who interface with customers represent your business directly to the public. If these critical messengers can’t tell your brand story in their own words, you’re missing some huge opportunities.
Here are three ways you’re wasting your marketing dollars if you’re not investing in media training:
1. Your public relations strategy is only as strong as its spokesperson.
Your media relations team has worked on a creative pitch, a national business reporter has agreed to do a feature on your organization – but the C-suite is panicked and asking for last-minute help with basic talking points.
Earning media is difficult enough, but if you can’t deliver a confident, consistent brand spokesperson for interview opportunities, your public relations efforts will suffer. Cutting through the media clutter has never been more difficult, so your key messages are absolutely going to get lost in the shuffle if your spokesperson isn’t a dynamic, informed and likable communicator. It’s all just words on paper (or a screen) without a credible human telling the story.
2. Most media wounds are self-inflicted.
Even the best spokespeople can lose their composure when they’re asked a question from left field that they don’t have the answer to, or when a controversial topic creeps into an otherwise promotional media opportunity. So imagine how a so-so spokesperson handles a challenging interview – not pretty.
The reality is that most media wounds are created by spokespeople who lose control of the interview. From defensiveness, to being led into unhelpful lines of questioning, to revealing proprietary information, to a variety of other sticky paths – even putting a normally well-spoken CEO in front of a news camera can end in a sloppy, confusing piece that does nothing to improve your brand in the eyes of the public. A few basic control techniques can keep even the most challenging interview in control.
3. Anything can live forever on the internet.
Our best and worst moments can live forever on the internet. Many a tongue-tied local news anchor, hapless beauty pageant contestant and company spokesperson have learned this lesson the hard way. In the age of smartphones, any moment at any time can be immortalized on the internet for the foreseeable future – don’t let your company be the one making headlines because a local operator made a gaffe while promoting a seasonal offer. If for no reason other than this one, invest in training all of your public- or media-facing employees so they’re consistent, confident and controlled representatives of your business.
Need some message or media training help? We can help with that.