You can’t always be there when your spokespeople speak to journalists but there are ways you can prepare your team to ensure their media interviews are as successful as possible.
Firstly, you must make sure your spokespeople; have a real understanding of the media, know the dos and don’ts and can handle interview situations before you ask them to meet journalists. If they haven’t been trained or if you think they need some polishing it is advisable that you put them through some formal media training. Secondly, you should provide your spokespeople with a media pack they can keep next to their desk. Ideally it will include the following:
1. A list of press officers: A full and comprehensive list of PR contacts (with phone numbers and emails); in-house and agency if relevant, this will enable your spokespeople to get hold of the press office if they need advice and guidance.
2. A contact list of all other spokespeople: By knowing who else can comment to the media (and their area of expertise) your spokespeople will be able to refer a journalist’s question, even if they don’t know the answer themselves.
3. Key messages: Whether they are macro messages about the organisation as a whole or specific ones related to departments and products, this will help to ensure your key messages are communicated in all interviews.
4. Media goals: What does your organisation want out of your media relations? Who are your target audience, target media and are there any specific journalists you want to build relationships with? All this information will help keep your team informed.
5. Information for specific interviews: Provide as much information as you can on upcoming interviews. What is the interview about? Who is the journalist? What is their likely agenda? What have they written lately?
6. Difficult questions: Prepare a list of all the difficult questions your spokespeople could be asked and aim to supply appropriate answers to each of them.
7. Parameters: Make sure each spokesperson knows what their boundaries are. If they don’t work in the finance department you probably don’t want them to answer technical questions about last year’s accounts. By telling them what they should and shouldn’t be commenting on you will help to avoid potential problems.
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk