Media Training- Essentials for ALL Office Professionals

Often the first point of contact the media has with an organisation is with the front desk or receptionist. Although designated people within a company may have the training and skills needed to interact with the media, the first point of contact within an organisation can make or break a journalists perception of the company and may impact on how they report about your business.

Here are ten tips on how to be media savvy for all office professionals.

1. Have a Formal Media Policy.

Every organisation should have a policy on talking to the media. A formal policy helps minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities when dealing with the media. It is important to also understand and update this policy. Often a company might have a media relations policy but it is dated or the designated person may be on holidays, always know who is available, their role and how to contact them.

2. List by name in the organisation who can and who can't talk to the media.

This is the basis of a good media policy and well run organisations have clearly designated responsibilities in this area. Again have this list updated regularly, you never know when the media will contact your company.

3. Make sure everyone understands the policy and it is well communicated throughout the organisation.

It is important to communicate the media policy to all front line team members. This is especially important in an emergency or crisis situation. Often roles change and it is better to be prepared and professional.

4. Act as a gatekeeper.

Good office professionals are the heartbeat of an organisation and control the flow of information. A good executive assistant can play a vital role in acting as a gatekeeper andcontrolling access to key decision makers in an organisation. Always be able to direct all enquiries to relevant people.

5. Be courteous.

Remember the media's impression of you represents the whole organisation and may influence how they report on your company.

6. Ask the journalist for their name, organisation, contact details and most importantly, their DEADLINE.

In the media, seconds make a difference whether a story makes the news or not. Take time to collect the vital information and make it a priority.

7. Always call back within an hour.

This ensures the journalist knows what is happening prior to the deadline and helps them better plan for their story. It also shows interaction, even if your not prepared for the interview or are still unable to make a statement, let the journalists know your progress.

8. Don't be drawn into speculation.

The media are highly trained at extracting information from people. They are some of the most persuasive professionals in the world. Be disciplined and avoid speculation. Always explain who you are and why you cannot give further information. Never lie or guess.

9. Assume everything you say is on the record.

Many journalists will use the line they only want background information and it will not be on the record (i.e. published or broadcast). In my experience it is better to avoid any grey areas and assume every time you speak to a journalist it will be used and in the public domain.

10. Review and evaluate.

If you have been involved with the media - whether positive or negative - it is always worthwhile to review your policies and procedures. Simply ask two questions - what worked well and what could we improve for next time. Monitoring your media also keeps you informed on how your company is being perceived by the public.

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