The Clare Balding ‘saga’ and the importance of media training

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We recently saw a brilliant example of how a seemingly simple interview between a journalist and an interviewee can spiral out of control. Clare Balding was very publicly accused by journalist Ginny Dougary of demanding copy control on an article due to appear in Saga Magazine.

Balding has since hit back to try and clear her name and it now seems unclear who was at fault. Who is right or wrong in this instance isn’t really the point but it does raise an interesting question of the relationship between a journalist and their interviewee, and how to manage it.

While I’ve no doubt that Clare Balding has been extensively trained in how to speak to the media (she is, of course, an experienced broadcaster herself) the whole fiasco highlights the sometimes difficult relationship between journalists and their interviewees. More importantly it shows us the importance of media training for those that are perhaps not as savvy as Balding.

If I was a business person, I might be asking myself a simple question at this point. How does this relate to me? You might not be famous but there will be occasions where you need to be interviewed by the media, whether that be a good news story (hopefully) or a not so good news story.

Being prepared for the type of questions you will be asked and exactly how to answer them is extremely important and is why media training for senior business people is so essential. I’ve laid out below the main benefits of media training and what you could learn.

  • Learn how to communicate your key messages

Defining your key messages should be one of the first things that you look at so that you know exactly the messages that you are trying to convey when you’re being interviewed. You shouldn’t have too many key messages and they need to be focused on your audience and the benefits of your services or product/s.

Media training will teach you how to use words, tone, and body language to deliver your key messages in a powerful way.

  • You won’t get misquoted

Media training won’t stop you being misquoted but it will definitely make it less likely to happen. A one-on-one interview with an experienced journalist can sometimes seem daunting and before you know it, you’ve been led into saying something that you didn’t really want to and might not necessarily be true. Being clear and concise in your messaging will ensure that journalists don’t take your answers out of context.

  • Prepare for the worst

Journalists may ask you difficult questions or ones that you are not prepared for. Media training will prepare you for these questions and allow you to answer them confidently. Journalist may ask the questions but you have the ability to steer the interview in the direction that you want.

In addition to the above, media training will give you the confidence to get out there and shout about all the great work that your company is doing – absolutely essential to any communications strategy.

Have you ever found yourself caught out or unprepared in an interview?

If the above strikes a chord it may be that you need to think about media training. Feel free to get in touch and discuss your needs.     

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