When an executive of a large energy company was called by a reporter and asked why the sign on the company’s newly leased building read something different from the official name of the company, he replied, “I don’t know. Maybe there wasn’t enough room for [the full name] up there.”
The name used on the building was the company’s brand name, a shorter version of the company’s legal name. While the executive probably knew that, his offhand, uncalculated answer gave the reporter the material for a less than pleasing headline, reflecting poorly on both the executive and the company.
In the business world, situations like this happen often so it’s no surprise that media training has become widely recommended for business leaders and executives.
According to a white paper published by a MMi, a business communications consulting firm in Cary, NC, “media training helps… develop a strong, succinct message, provides an understanding of how media operates, guidance on how to handle an interview and what to do in the instance that the wrong thing is said.”
Typically, media training is provided in a workshop format in a single or multi-day session. As much of communication is non-verbal, how one communicates is as important as what is said. Thus an essential part of a workshop is practicing speaking in front of a camera while keeping in mind one’s body language such as eye contact, shifting or hand gestures, and speaking habits such as saying “um” or “uh.”
However, while media training may be necessary for executives, CEOs and others in leadership positions, a recent Forbes article suggests that media training could benefit almost anyone with a business agenda. Much of media training is learning how to present yourself well — a skill that can come in handy in any situation — including many business scenarios tied to promoting, featuring or selling a product or a service.
At William Woods University, students can take BUS332 Business Communications, a course that covers some of the topics relevant for media preparedness. For example, students are taught how to craft business messages and how to improve their public speaking. Honing these skills can improve students’ ability to stay on message and tame nervousness when dealing with the media.