Quick Bytes: Media Training 101

Image from DesignSponge.com

I’ve been reading, learning, and watching a lot of content about presenting lately as it’s something I’m very interested in and there’s no definitive manual to learn how to do it. I’ll be sharing that info soon, but first I thought a parallel subject is learning how to speak with the media.

I spent three years as an organizer for the Girl Geek Dinners in Milan, when blogging and social media was gaining ground in Italy so I had a lot of opportunities to speak to the press and work with different companies on messaging (you can check out my Press page). Many times an article came out that didn’t clearly represent what I had said or who I was, and while you can’t control journalists, I think having access to this Design*Sponge guide, Media Training 101 would have been very helpful.

Design*Sponge is a site for creative types, and they have one of my favorite series, “biz ladies” with tutorials and how-tos for entrepreneurs from all sorts of topics from brand strategy to CSS tricks to networking (written by me!) to media training. I highly recommend sorting through their past biz ladies articles.

A few nuggets from the article which was co-written by both a journalist and a blogger. The journalist’s advice:

I would approach it like a job interview. Think about how you want to present yourself. Think about how you explained your business to the loan officer at the bank or when you pursued a business license. Be guarded, but not unapproachable.

If you like to make jokes, make jokes, but remember that anything said in an interview is fair game UNLESS you precede the joke by saying, “Off the record.” It’s very annoying to have someone say later that they never thought their comments would go in the story; unless the reporter has agreed not to publish something, it’s considered part of the interview. Personally, I try to use my best judgment and be as fair as possible. I’m not in the business of burning newbies, but I’ve met reporters who have no qualms about it.

and what to do if the article was wrong (like the time I was listed as a housewife with a photography hobby in an Italian magazine – no disrespect, but my paychecks say otherwise):

If you believe the article was truly unfair, contact the writer first, and try to stay calm. Emails written while angry often come off as irrational and nonsensical. If the writer brushes off your concerns, contact her editor.

If something is inaccurate, contact the writer first. If the story is online, you’re in luck, because she will probably correct it immediately before too much damage is done.

And the blogger’s advice regarding preparation:

…There’s absolutely no way to over emphasize how important it is to be prepared for any interview situation. I used to think that being prepared meant answering their questions ahead of time or thinking about the topic, but I’ve now learned that having more examples/tips/info than they could possibly use is the best way to prepare.

and saying no:

It may seem crazy, but sometimes it’s good to walk away from a press opportunity if you don’t like the theme or tone of the article. It’s often as simple as recognizing if the answers you’re going to give project the message you want your brand/business to have.

It’s an excellent and detailed intro to Media Training – so check it out!

2 replies »

  1. Well written and interesting. Just a quick question: what if you (me) are both a journalist and a blogger? My horoscope (Gemini) would probably say it might be due to my split personality!

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Director of Product Marketing @ HubSpot. Early hire @ Automattic / WordPress.com. Founder World Nutella Day. MBA Alumni Advisory Board @ Santa Clara University.

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