First Published: 08/07/10
Last Update: 09/07/12
Author: Doug Weller
Media Training-Media Training-Media Training. Why is there such a thing as media training? Why do we conduct Media Training Programs and Media Training Courses? A few decades ago media training did not exist. Media training has only been around, in a formal sense, since the 1970’s. Let me speak to you about the three main myths in regards to media training.
The First Myth: This Company seems professional so it must be Okay.
There are a lot of media training organisations throughout Australia and the South Pacific. Some media training organisations are good; others not so good. How do you pick a legitimate media training organisation?
I’ve been saying for some time that there is a lot of ‘fluff and bubble’ involved in the media training industry. There are many people out there conducting media training who don’t know a great deal about the media.
The best way to work out if a media training organisation is reputable is to choose a journalism-based media training organisation. What I mean by that is; choose a media training company which is owned and operated by a journalist.
Let me speak about Corporate Media Services – our organisation. I am the owner and director of Corporate Media Services. My history in journalism spans 30 years, it covers all mediums and I have worked as a journalist both in Australia and overseas. I’ve worked in roles ranging from an on-the-road reporter, to Chief of Staff, and have fronted radio and television programs.
So people should choose a media training organisation which has a journalist as the Director or operator. Many media training organisations are owned and operated by people who have had no journalism experience.
Obviously, if you are going to contract somebody to do media training for you, you should be choosing somebody who has a media/journalism background. But how can you be sure that the media training organisation you are contracting has the qualifications it claims to have?
The internet is an amazing and useful tool, it allows us to check things quickly and in many cases, thoroughly. Don’t just take the word of any media training organisation in terms of the background of the trainers and the operators, check it on the internet.
For instance, with our company, Corporate Media Services, if anybody wanted to check my background, I would suggest they do a google search on ‘Doug Weller’ and ‘journalism’ and see what comes up. If they wanted to check my credentials in terms of being a University Lecturer, google ‘Doug Weller RMIT University’ and see what comes up.
So you should not just take the word of the media training organisations in terms of the background of the trainers or the operators of that organisation. You also need to thoroughly check that the media training organisation you are contracting has people at the top with a substantial media/journalism background.
The second myth: The use of studios for media training.
Some organisations claim to have radio and television studios where their media training will be conducted. There are two major myths in this area: the first is that very rarely are these ‘so called’ TV and radio studios really studios, they are ‘mock ups’ to look like studios. To the untrained eye, this may look very impressive, however in reality, these ‘so-called’ studios are not really studios.
Secondly and more importantly, it can in fact be counter-productive to conduct media training in a radio or TV studio for most people. For instance, unless you are the Prime Minister, the Premier, the head of a major organisation, or somebody like the Police Commissioner, it is highly unlikely you will be asked to do a media interview in a radio or TV studio. The vast majority of interviews that are conducted around Australia and indeed around the world, are conducted with newspaper journalists over the telephone. After that, the majority of interviews are conducted with radio journalists, again over the telephone. The only person sitting in a studio during those radio interviews will be the journalist.
If trainees do their media training in ‘so called’ radio or television studios, it can be counter-productive because the training is being conducted in an unrealistic environment. If people are to undergo media training, they need to undergo that media training in environments that are as close to ‘real life’ as possible. That generally means your office environment because that is where you are likely to do most interviews. That is why we conduct most of our training at the client’s premises.
If you are likely to be doing radio interviews over the telephone from an office, your media training should be conducted in an office environment. If you are likely to be doing television interviews outside, the media training should be conducted outside with a media industry standard television camera. If you are likely to be doing interviews over the phone with newspaper journalists in an office environment, then that is the environment in which the training should be conducted.
In my view, to conduct media training in a ‘so-called’ radio or television studio where the trainee is unlikely to be interviewed, is counter-productive.
Some of our clients, due to their position, may require the media training to be conducted in a studio. When this is the case, we do deliver the training in a state-of-the-art broadcast studio.
The third myth: The media trainer told me it was true, so it must be true.
Media training falls into basically two types; there is ‘old style’ media training and there is ‘new style’ media training. The media is changing constantly. For instance the way news is delivered is changing and the way interviews are conducted is changing. What is expected of people in terms of those interviews is also changing.
The way we did a radio interview ten years ago compared to the way we do it now is totally different. If people are being taught an old style of media training, it will be detrimental in terms of their media performance. For instance people were once told to work out their key messages to avoid questions, and simply repeat their key points no matter what the journalist asks. That is now counter-productive. In fact it is quite damaging in terms of the media message delivery process.
The media industry and the community have moved forward a great deal in the past few years in terms of what they view as acceptable and not acceptable in terms of a media performance. If media trainers are delivering ‘old style’ media programs, it will be detrimental to the trainee.
To avoid these myths within the media training industry you should:
1. Check the credentials of the owner and/or operator of the media training organisation that you are contracting to do your media training.
2. If you are being told that your media training will be conducted in a TV or radio studio, check the studio to ensure that it is a broadcast quality studio. More importantly, ask why the media training is being conducted in a studio if the majority of your interviews are going to occur in an office environment or outside.
3. Ask the media trainers what sort of training they deliver. Ask them about the changes that have occurred in the media industry in the last several years, especially in terms of interviewing and media-message delivery.
It is essential when you are getting media training that you get the correct type of media training. It needs to be conducted by people with solid credentials and in an environment which is suitable.
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