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The Scouts are right: be prepared!

Preparing for the media front line

Quill's chairman Fiona Harris on the vital importance of media training.

In today’s fast-paced, 24/7 multi-channel media world everyone who is press facing needs to be a polished and convincing presenter.  This is an onerous responsibility for those in the front line as these stalwarts are the protectors of corporate reputation and as we all know – reputations take years to build and yet can be destroyed in seconds.  All it takes is a momentary lapse and saying something inappropriate or merely silly and the media are suddenly crawling all over your organisation and asking awkward questions which you would much rather not answer. You may remember the Gerald Ratner comment about his jewellery not lasting as long as an M&S prawn sandwich – that one throw away comment basically destroyed his business. Social media and the internet means that there are fewer places to hide; businesses today are much more exposed to close  and regular scrutiny.  The continuing explosion of social media, which impacts every part of our lives, has empowered consumers and as a result, disaffected customers are much more willing to take their complaint to the press. 

…if you don’t want to see it in print then DON’T SAY IT! 

So how can those in the media front line best prepare for what is undoubtedly an increasingly tough and challenging media environment?  Put simply, it is all about the ability to get your message across succinctly, being seen as credible is the key to media success. Think about what you want to say and how you can make your views interesting, memorable and most importantly relevant to the audience you are addressing. The tone you adopt is also important: the way in which you talk to the Financial Times is likely to be very different from the style you adopt when talking to a mass market consumer title. The whole point of successful media relations is to create greater awareness and understanding of your business by getting your message across to current or potential customers or those you want to influence clearly and in a format that they can absorb. 

Preparation is key here; think carefully about the end audience and what you want to say to them.  Jot down the three or four core points you want to get across and expand them with interesting facts and figures, illustrations or authoritative references. Keep in mind that you are trying to paint a picture in words and bring what you are saying to life.  Remember that you are an ambassador for your company and want to leave readers or listeners with a positive and lasting impression of both you and your business.    

Oh and I must, of course, mention the one golden rule – if you don’t want to see it in print then DON’T SAY IT!