When clients first contact me and ask if I do Media Training, I give them a “qualified” yes. What does that mean? I then explain my observation as it relates to Media Training vs. Media Strategy. The reason I prefer Media Strategy over Media Training is simple. I think the term “Media Training” may be misinterpreted by some to mean “help for the beginner.” That perception sometimes overshadows and diminishes the core purpose of what I do. This doesn’t mean I skip the fundamentals. Each assignment presents unique challenges and depending on the specific situation and/or individual(s), I always include discussion and tips on some of the basics.
Experts say a good chess player is thinking in the moment, a great one is thinking a step ahead.
This is the primary focus of my strategy session. With over 25 years of experience as both a Media and Business Strategist, I have found the one key principle critical to the success of any interview, panel or individual presentation, is that my clients are a “step ahead” and know how to control the situation.
This doesn’t “just” happen. Success that differentiates any individual or organization: corporate, political, or entertainment, and allows them to move to the next level of excellence, is contingent on a well-orchestrated strategy that is perfected with practice. Remember, the one common thread that allows an individual to reach the top level of distinction above others in their profession – is practice. (Yes, experience counts as practice.)
The ultimate goal of the strategy session is to: (1) identify the marquee “Branding” message and; (2) then determine specific talking points (headlines) that support that message. PR Professionals are experts in developing thorough and detailed talking points. This is an excellent tool when used properly. What doesn’t work is coming in right before a panel or interview and handing out several pages of “Talking Points” and expecting people to grasp a clear understanding of your strategy and their role in promoting it. It usually results in confusion and panic.
Talking points are a pivotal part of any strategy session. They are one of the most valuable documents in the preparation process. These tools provide the foundation in determining and clarifying what messages need to be communicated, how to build brand awareness, and promote or deal with specific situations or crises. Without allowing time for your clients to be a part of the strategic process, your return is diminished and therefore, less productive.
I think the role of a PR professional is a crucial part of the health and success of any organization. When describing the function of a PR Team in any industry, I refer to them as the “Trauma Center” of the business. They never know exactly what they are going to get or when they are going to get it. Like ER doctors they have to quickly assess and deal with minor incidents as well as major catastrophes, (crisis management) and with the advent of the social media “tsunami,” their jobs have gotten a lot more complicated.
One thing we can all agree on is that today’s culture is in a state of constant flux. Your success depends on having the right tools and skill set, that allow you to both survive and thrive as you maneuver within this complex maze known as PR.
Regardless of your focus, entertainment, political, corporate, local or national, you must have a well-defined media strategy. Getting all the players moving in the same direction, with consistency, brand awareness, and commitment is the formula that will give you the competitive advantage to stand a cut above the competition.