Posts Tagged ‘training’

Key Media Training Skills For Public Relations Professionals

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

According to TJ Walker of Media Training Worldwide, who recently led a PRSA webinar on Media Training for Public Relations Professionals, there are some key skills we need to know as PR professionals to help our clients prepare for a media interview. 

Walker says for every interview, your goal is to get your message across in the final story. But there are actually five possible outcomes:

  1. Interview, no quote
  2. Quoted out of context (and sounds racist, sexist, ageist, etc.)
  3. Quoted, but not your message
  4. Quoted and pretty much on message (sort of by accident)
  5. Quoted, word-for-word the message you wanted (and picked in advance)

In order to get to the preferred outcome (#5 above), you first must remember that you have no control over what the reporter will ask. However, there are three elements that you do have control over.

“So, what if a reporter rapid fires several questions at me?” Pick the question to reply to based on which one will let you get back to your message the quickest ~ TJ Walker, Media Training Worldwide.


How to look comfortable.  Your client can remember everything you’ve coached them on, including their key message. However, no one will remember if they look stiff or scared.  Walker says PR pros should never ever let their client do an interview without a video rehearsal. It doesn’t matter the quality of camera (You can use your cell phone, iPad, or whatever.) It’s just practice.  You can even shoot the video in the cab on the way to the interview, as long as your spokespeople see and hear themselves. Even for telephone or traditionally print media, Walker recommends video rehearsal as there are some things that can be heard even if not seen. And, besides, you can pause video to show “bad’ sound bites so the client can hear for themselves.

How to get a solid 30-second point / message across. While brainstorming (sitting around discussing what should be said) has its value, you must get into rehearsal mode as part of your interview prep. What you think you’re going to say goes out the window when the interview begins.  Walker advised that when brainstorming, you need to isolate every single message or idea—talking in paragraphs can’t be processed and the context may get cut. Think about what the reporter may ask, what the audience may want to know, and what you want to say, and then narrow that down to the top three. PR pros should not allow their client to do the interview until they’ve narrowed their focus to these three key points and can express them in 30-second sound bites.

How to answer interview questions. Interviews are not like a normal conversation.  Responses need to be kept positive, and never guess! If your client doesn’t know the answer, it’s okay to say that – and then bridge back to your three messages.

During the webinar, attendees were able to ask questions, and there was one regarding wardrobe choices that I found exceptionally noteworthy.  We ladies tend to think black makes us look slimmer, but Walker says on video black can actually make you look fat. If you can’t see where your body stop and arms begin, your body just blends together making you look wide! Totally makes sense but I’d never thought about it in those terms.

Do you have a media training experience you’d like to share with our readers? What media training tips can you add?

Business IS Personal – Five Tips for Effective Client Relations

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Kelly Mulholland*

In business you commonly hear the phrase, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.” While this saying may signify that there is nothing wrong with playing competitive games professionally, it’s impossible to argue that business isn’t personal. Businesses have always had to be personal with their clients – though the tactics by which they reach their audiences and the modes by which they build and maintain relationships have certainly changed over the years.

@emorgenstern: It's all about the people. Always.

Even so, fundamental techniques still need to be put in place to ensure high levels of client satisfaction. Here are the 5 most useful ways I have found that help to build client rapport overtime:

1. Use the client’s name when speaking to them: It not only ensures the client feels that you are listening but it also helps you remember with whom you are speaking.

2. Don’t delay communication: Haste doesn’t always make waste. Bad news never has good timing, but it definitely doesn’t get better with time. If you see issues, contact the client immediately acknowledging you are working with your team to resolve the issue. You want to keep your client informed regularly, so that all parties involved know when the job is complete.

3. Educate your client while educating yourself: A client may not know when to ask for help. Taking the time to coordinate your schedule for training sessions can help provide them with the information they need to do their job more effectively and keep you and your organization informed of service features and product improvements that your clients want to see based on their feedback.

4. Don’t rely on just email to communicate: In AdAge’s “How In-person Meetings and Phone Conversations Will Save Your Client-Agency Relationship,” Judy Neer discusses how we shouldn’t rely on one form of communication with clients. While email has many benefits, such as sending documents, a lot can get lost in translation. Make a habit of picking up the phone if you are playing email tag with the client. Take your client to lunch, coffee or even write a handwritten letter. (You can also see my colleague Denise Giacin’s blog post for further details on email etiquette.)

5. Over-deliver, under-promise: Never promise a client something you have hesitations about delivering, otherwise you risk ruining your credibility and trust. In other words, manage the client’s expectations.

What customer relationship management tools do you find most useful? How are you putting the personal back in your client relationships? Please share your tips here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.


Bio: Before joining the BurrellesLuce team in 2011, Kelly interned at CondeNast’s Glamour magazine as an editorial intern to the senior style writer and was an editor of her college newspaper. She received a B.A. in Behavioral Science and Business, Society and Culture from Drew University with honors. After graduation, she worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom and took a month off to travel abroad throughout Europe. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys traveling, fashion, reading, bringing awareness to Breast Cancer, running 5Ks, baking and social media. Twitter:@miss_mulholland Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: Kelly Mulholland

PRSA Counselors Academy: Mark McClennan, Schwartz Communications, Interviewed By Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, everyone, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m at the PRSA Counselors Academy. And we’re here with Mark.

Mark, will you introduce yourself?

MARK McCLENNAN: Sure thing, Johna. It’s Mark McClennan. I’m a senior vice president at Schwartz Communications.

BURKE: Mark, now, you just gave a session on growing your talent from within. Can you give a couple of the takeaways, for those people that couldn’t be here, of how they can do that at home?

McCLENNAN: I’d be happy to. When you’re talking about growing the talent from within, there’s really three fundamental things you need to make sure you do. From point one, you need to make sure you establish buy-in to the company vision and the power of folklore from day one. Make sure people understand where your company is, where they fit within the company and how they can grow within the company.

Point two is you need to make sure you’re constantly giving them opportunities to fail. I mean, fundamentally, the only way to grow your supervisors, your vice presidents, is you encourage people to make mistakes and learn from them. You know, give them the maximum responsibility at the earliest possible moment. Eighty percent of the time it’s going to work well for you, 20 percent of the time it’s not necessarily going to work as well, and those are the learning experiences. And you need to make that commitment because short term there may be an impact, long term you’re going to get a significant ROI. And that’s how you’re going to grow the people that know your company, know what you need to succeed, and they can help drive things forward.

And finally, you need to make sure, when it comes to training, that you don’t do the work for your employees. You need to give them the opportunities to begin the discussion. You need to–when you get a horrible press release, you can’t rewrite it. What you need to fundamentally do is figure out ways to help them through an…(unintelligible)…process to fix it. Ask them during every team meeting, `What do you see as the trends? What do you think we should do?’ When they come to you with questions, don’t answer the question. The first thing you should say is, `What do you think? How do you think we shoot–we should do that?’ And by doing that, you’re going to have people aligned with the company vision, you’re going to give them the confidence they need to succeed, and you’re going to really help develop the future leaders that will help your agency grow.

BURKE: Mark, that’s great. Thank you so much.

McCLENNAN: Thanks so much.

BURKE: And where can people find you on the web and in social media?

McCLENNAN: Sure. Well, there’s a lot of places there, but basically, and our blog is Crossroads, so And you can find me at @mcclennan at Twitter.

BURKE: Great. Thank you so much, Mark.

McCLENNAN: Thanks. 

PRSA Counselors Academy 2010: Ken Jacobs, Jacobs Communications, Interviewed By Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m at the PRSA Counselors Academy with Ken.

Ken, will you please introduce yourself?

KEN JACOBS: Sure. I’m Ken Jacobs of Jacobs Communications Consulting, and I help public relations agencies in three ways: number one, to grow and manage their business; number two, improve client relationships and client service; and number three, to enhance staff performance and motivation, primarily through training.

BURKE: Great. Ken, you’re doing a session on working with millennials. Can you please share with the people that aren’t able to make it on some of the tips about effectively working with millennials in the workplace?

JACOBS: Sure. Well, the number one tip is to stop complaining about them, particularly if you’re a baby boomer like myself or if you’re in Gen X, but to appreciate the fact they are the largest and fastest growing part of our work force. They’re 37 percent of them today; by the year 2014 they’ll be 47 percent. SO we have no choice but to learn how to manage and motivate them. And I think the most important thing is to understand the different cultural issues that have affected this generation. Understand their values, understand what makes them tick, understand how they’re different from both the baby boomers and the gen Xers and learn to appreciate them. And once you gain some insight into how they think and how they work, they can be very, very productive and really contribute to your team.

BURKE: I think those are great points and reminders for all of us that work with them, to really find a way to bring out the value that they bring to the organization. Tell me again how people can find you on the web and in social media.

JACOBS: Sure. They can find me at, that’s J-A-C-O-B-S-C-O-double M-dot-com. They can also find me on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter.

BURKE: Ken, thank you so much.

JACOBS: Thank you. 

PRSA 2010 Counselors Academy: Linda Cohen, Caliber Group, interviewed by Johna Burke

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m at the PRSA Counselor’s Academy with Linda.

Linda, will you please introduce yourself?

LINDA COHEN: Hi, I’m Linda Welter Cohen with the Caliber Group based in Tucson, Arizona.

BURKE: Linda, now, of the things that you’ve learned here at the last couple of days, which have been great sessions, what’s the one thing that you’re looking to implement right away with your team when you get back?

COHEN: I would say when I get back to the office one of the first things I’m going to do is schedule a session with Jason Baer to come to the Caliber Group and impart many of the social media tips and, in particular, some of the newest technologies and training out there on measuring the impact of social media and connecting the dots and how we can counsel our clients to understand this medium better than what they currently understand it. I think that there is so much potential. Everyone understands the potential, I think, but I think there’s so much potential to take our clients to a new level and harness this medium better than we’ve ever done it before.

BURKE: And I can say that probably taking that action and with Jason, you’re choosing a good commander at the post.

COHEN: Right.

BURKE: Now, where can people find you on the web and in social media?

COHEN: They can find me on Twitter @lindawcohen, and on Facebook at Linda Welter Cohen.

BURKE: Great. Thank you so much.