Media training: Busting 10 common misconceptions

Jess Mangold Media training

Media training is often misunderstood.

How many of the following would you say are true?

Common Misconceptions on Media Training

All of the above are in fact FALSE.

Let us explain why and set the record straight on a few other misconceptions.

The Truth:

  1. Media training is about so much more than the corporate position
    – It involves learning how to communicate effectively, by being genuine and maintaining composure under pressure.
  2. Media training is beneficial for people at all levels
    – Senior executives often take the lead with the press but having others trained is both a great learning for all work conversations and provides the reassurance of having more than one spokesperson ready to respond.
  3. Media training is an ongoing process
    – Just like going to the gym, continuous practice and updating skills are essential as the media landscape and business strategy evolve.
  4. Media training is more than managing negative press
    – It prepares people for all types of media interactions, including positive stories and helps people understand the media landscape they are operating in.
  5. Proper training prepares you for off-the-cuff questions
    – Mock interviews and scenario-based training empower spokespeople with techniques for thinking on their feet.
  6. Even good public speakers benefit from media training
    – Press interviews require specific skills that differ from general public speaking, such as concise soundbites and handling unexpected questions.
  7. Media training covers a wide range of interactions beyond interviews
    – From corridor chats to meeting important contacts and more, it helps you take your agenda to a conversation.
  8. The comms team need media training
    – While the comms teams manage the overall strategy, their ability to brief and advise individual spokespeople on the look and feel of an interview and what to expect is critical.
  9. Good media trainers use different approaches tailored to individual needs
    – This means adapting the training methods to suit the unique requirements and challenges of each client.
  10. And finally, media training doesn’t need to feel like being put through the ringer
    – Yes it needs to be challenging, yes spokespeople need to be tested but media training is a confidence building exercise designed to help people make the most out of every media opportunity.

Learn more about our media training services here  or contact us to find out more.

Lessons from undercover filming

Abby Mangold on factory floor ahead of filming for BBC Inside the Factory

Having sent undercover BBC camera teams into food businesses and having produced many programmes on failing food and production standards, we know what visiting journalists look out for on busy production lines. And the good, the bad and the ugly discoveries that can undo reputations.

But done in the right way, inviting cameras in can be a big win. Ahead of filming for BBC Inside the Factory, we visited one client’s production floor, before the crew and host Greg Wallace arrived.

Using our documentary maker’s mindset and an experienced camera operator, we spent the day filming with each team member on location giving them on camera experience and answering questions in the busy factory.

This hugely successful British snack company knew a prime-time TV slot was a huge opportunity, requiring careful prep to showcase the brand and its people. How did we help?

  • Define what each person brings to the programme.
  • Rehearse “on camera” skills for working with TV talent.
  • Film on location & fine-tune the set up to suit each person.

As the PR and marketing lead said: “Abby and her team put everyone at ease. The thought and preparation they’d put into the session meant that we got straight on with focussing on the team and making sure they had the practice and insight they needed to speak with confidence.”

Similarly, Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped asked to film with one client in their European factory.  It was not an easy decision so our client asked us to help them take their assessment to the Executive Management Team.

First we:

  • provided a complete briefing on the programme, the presenters, viewing figures, audience and more
  • analysed the risks vs benefit of taking part in the programme
  • managed all the liaison between the client and the TV production company

Next we:

  • visited the factory
  • found the right members of staff to talk to the programme
  • agreed key messaging
  • trained everyone to give them the confidence they needed

The client was thrilled with the final result which showed their manufacturing standards, their people and their brand in very good light.

Undercover filming is a very different experience but whether positive or negative we know how to advise, support and work with clients to achieve the best outcome possible because we’ve been on both sides of the camera.

Find out more about our Media Training services »

Living through crises

Horse Meat Scandal

How do you live through crises?

You know, the ones in real-time, vivid colour, surround sound, no let up.

When I talk about living through crises, plural, I mean it. The horse meat scandal was one.

Back in 2013, relatively new to crisis communications, my brief was to support a client facing the force of media scrutiny, after processed beef products sold by UK supermarkets were found to contain horse meat.

Rooted to one room, the phone an extension of my ear, time dictated by challenging media calls, social media chatter and client needs – it was the most exceptional 10 days of my life.

I discovered:

  1. why asking ‘stupid questions’ always pays
  2. how to manage aggressive, demanding and well informed journalists
  3. the crisis peak is soon followed by reputational build back requiring equal if not greater resilience.

If you want to talk lived crisis experience, please give me a shout.

How to make someone really stop and listen

How to make someone stop and listen

How do you make people stop and listen?

After years spent preparing for interviews, both asking and answering questions. And even more following the big news interviews, I wanted to summarise what makes me really listen:

1. Paint me a picture – literally. Use language with colour, imagery and stories to help me make an emotional connection with what you are talking about.

2. Vocal power. Use your tone of voice, pauses and stress on critical words, to make it feel like you’re talking directly to me.

3. Hold my hand. Lead me through what you’re saying by keeping it simple, impactful and ultimately memorable.

Image credit: Magda Ehlers

I hate doing video…

I hate doing video
  • I hate listening to my own voice.
  • I hate having to watch it back.

And I know lots of people feel exactly the same way.

Given that I train others how to speak on camera I’ve forced myself to take my own medicine and now – I’m actually starting to enjoy it, a little!

Here’s what I’ve learnt and what you need to know…

Get comfortable with your sound bites

You've got no idea what you're bloody talking about!

When it comes to media training, we often see our clients fighting to convert wordy corporate messages into convincing sound bites.

So how do you get comfortable with what you’re saying?

Practice with the corporate message, a bit, and then abandon it and practice saying it like you’re talking to a friend.

Remember why you’re doing the interview – to promote, rebut or disrupt – keep a laser focus on your why, through every twist and turn of the interview.

Finally don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Not like a parrot, but by using examples to explain your points in different ways.

Contact me if you’d like any more media training tips.

We train award winners!

Betsy the Dog - Award Winner

🤗 Huge congratulations to our 4 fabulous clients recognised as inspiring industry leaders. Well-earned, richly deserved.

👀 Discretion prevents a public shout-out, but you know who you are!

For clients on the journey to awards, our media training is still a win – why?

💭 Reconciling opposing views in the office

👊 Confidence to answer difficult questions in front of an audience

⚖ Diplomacy to find centre ground in a professional stand-off

🏋‍♂️ Clarity to sell strengths in a VIP meeting

👉 Media training is a recipe for success in these situations and more.

🐶 Thanks to Betsy for wearing her award with such good grace.

Don’t be a loser

Don't be a loser

Don’t read this if you’re a loser…

Every time you stand up to present in front of peers or strangers, you should practice.

Every time you agree to talk to a journalist about you or your business you should practice.

No great presentation came from winging it.

Good interviews don’t happen by chance.

Winners practice… don’t be a loser.

Space Shuttle Learnings

Space Shuttle - The failure to imagine the consequences of failure are catastrophic

Tell your boss to watch this Space Shuttle documentary…

📢 Are you the lone voice nudging senior colleagues about crisis planning?

🤔 Are there known issues too trifling to confront amongst all the “business as usual”?

Watch ‘The Space Shuttle that Fell To Earth’ on BBC iPlayer and tell your bosses to do the same, if you want to get crisis communications at the top of the agenda.

👍 Congratulations to Mindhouse Productions, this brilliant 3-parter, sensitively told a difficult story, which among many things shows why a culture of open communication matters. And is as important as crisis preparation.

🚀 Even if you are not in the business of space flight, speaking out, seeking answers and encouraging conversations, will help avoid issues becoming devastating crises.

And give me a shout if your crisis comms nudge could do with a shoulder.

Too Much Passion

Too Much Passion?

Can you have too much passion?

🏆 With awards season upon us, it is worth remembering that behind every good speech is a lot of performance.

Kate Winslet has years of acting experience to draw on.

🔓 So how do the rest of us unlock our best when presenting to others?

🌟 For me, it’s about Producing your Performance, something I learnt working with legendary BBC talent.

🎭 Kate’s passion creates an emotional reaction – even when speaking from notes – so find the passion in your presentation and take it to your audience.

And get in touch if you’re up for unlocking your presentation passion.

Good Ship Mangold ahoy!

The Good Ship Mangold

The good ship Mangold Consultancy continues on a strong course, thanks to the team covering my watch during a recent stay ashore!

Here are some treasures discovered on my return…

Problem: Keeping the spokesperson’s muscle flexed.

Solution: Meet our clients with a fitness mindset to media training – regular sessions to grow the muscles needed by providing current, timely and relevant insight and examples of press performance done well.

Problem: Organisations are facing increasing scrutiny from unannounced visitors demanding a big ask of frontline teams who meet them.

Solution: Provide practical ways to keep pace with changing methods of scrutiny, which reinforce reputation management and protect staff wellbeing.

PS. Time out is an excellent way to take a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings and future course. Many thanks to Jess Mangold, Estelle Kinzett, Justin Clark, Amanda Coleman and Emma Davies for your “all hands on deck” approach!

Thank you to DALL-E Open Ai for this image.

The press doorstep – can you handle it?

The press doorstep - can you handle it?

Only watch this if you KNOW how to handle a doorstep*

The infamous doorstep only ends when the journalist leaves with something.

A no comment, a closed door, or in this case a response.

Managing a doorstep takes some well thought through choreography.

*Full disclosure, this one features my Dad, Tom Mangold, in action on BBC Panorama in 1997 so I may be biased.

Accepting and solving a communications training challenge from a global client

Global Client Challenge

Challenge accepted…

Loyal global client presents a new challenge.

“How do we grow our crisis comms resilience as a new team in multiple continents, time zones & cultures”

We got to deliver our solution at their European HQ. The energy, positivity & comments in the room suggest we exceeded expectations.

Job done.

This was followed by a welcome moment to reflect on where the training goes next while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.