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Do You Need Media Training? Yes. Here are 11 Guidelines.

It’s getting crazy out there. Our world is so connected that a person’s words, voice and video can travel worldwide in a matter of seconds. Sometimes for good, sometimes with dire consequences.

Media Relations Training

We seem to go from one unfortunate incident in the public arena to another these days. Each crazier than the one before and all amplified by social media conversation and sharing.

Does everyone need media training now? In a word? Yes.

Media training, one of the mainstays of public relations, has never been more important than it is today. Media training infused with a social media perspective is critical and can make the difference between creating a strong positive public impression or a truly negative one.

However, it may not always be possible to have access to professional media training when it’s needed. Whether you’re a spokesman for your organization, an employee with a public facing role, a small business owner, or someone who simply has a message to share with the public, adhering to some of theses basic rules of media training will stand you in good stead.

Follow these guidelines:

1. Know Your Message Points

What are you trying to communicate? Identify the major points you hope to get across and memorize them.

2. Prepare for the Interview

Who will be interviewing you? What do they tend to cover? Will the interview be print, audio, video or television? What do they hope to learn from you? Do your homework and answer these questions in advance.

3. Rehearse

Take the time to run through your message points. Practice both what you want to say and answers to what you think the journalist will ask you. If you don’t have access to a media trainer, practice in front of a mirror, or before an audience of friends or family members.

4. Dress Appropriately

Do you know the appropriate attire for the interview? Find out in advance. It may be professional or formal, it may be something utterly different depending on the nature of the interview. You want to look right so the focus is on your message not on your clothing.

5. Maintain Eye Contact

As much as possible, maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Refer to your notes if you must, but try to actively listen to the questions you are being asked and look at your interviewer as you answer.

6. Stay on Message

Remember your message and stay on point as much as possible. People tend to get in trouble when they ad-lib in interviews—even the most seasoned professionals.

7. Pause and Think Before Answering

You don’t have to rush to answer a question. Pause to collect your thoughts, breathe and then answer. Speak slowly and clearly.

Practice Speaking  - Media Relations

8. Understand Social Media

Know the basics of using digital tools and social networks for communicating with the public.

Understand the difference in the social networks. What works in one, may not work in another. The way you say things can make a big difference in social media. Take time to find out where the people you want to communicate with are spending time online so you can share your message effectively.

9. Understand What NOT to Do or Say

Know what NOT to do in your online communications. This can include using language you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear coming out of your mouth, revealing proprietary information from your employer, making racist or obscene observations or being too overtly self-promotional.

10. Be Helpful

One of the tenets of social media is to be helpful and share information that will be useful to someone. Think it through beforehand. How can you be helpful to the journalist who is interviewing or to the audience who is watching or reading your communications?

11. Keep It Short

Under stress many of us tend to blather on. Keep your responses as short and as simple as you can and get your message across. Your audience will thank you. You will thank you.

Above all, be mindful of what you say, where and how you say it. Media means so much more today than it once did and we are all vulnerable to being quoted, misquoted, photographed, videotaped and shared across multiple networks—in seconds.

Looking to learn more about the vital trends and best practices of public relations, marketing social media and digital communications? Register today for the Vocus Demand Success 2014 conference in Washington DC with Randi Zuckerberg, Adrian Grenier, Avinash Kaushik and Judy Smith and a host of other industry leaders.

Image: Uhlandfriendsre:publics  (Creative Commons)

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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