Veteran broadcaster John Humphrys recently scooped the prize for Radio Journalism of the Year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards for an interview that contributed to the downfall of the man in charge at the BBC.
Anyone listening to Humphrys’ famous ding-dong with Director General George Entwistle on Radio 4’s Today Programme possibly wouldn’t have been vastly encouraged by the thought of engaging with the media, even if the focus of the interview was something not quite as high profile as the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Many employees within organisations large and small view the media with extreme caution and I’ve seen otherwise confident senior managers retreat into a terrified stupor at the thought of speaking to either a broadcast or print journalist.
They have however regained confidence after taking part in media training and learning that media engagement isn’t something to be scared of and, on the contrary, can have all sorts of benefits.
In the world of B2B PR though, there’s sometimes a perception that media training isn’t necessary. After all, people say, we’re a small business and it’s not going to be John Humphrys doing the interview. Plus, how difficult can it be to talk to a trade journalist about your company’s brand new business product or service?
Well, it might not be difficult to talk about it but are you saying the right things and in the right way? Above all, is it an interesting story you’re telling and are you therefore able to make the most of a great opportunity to benefit your organisation?
This is where media training comes in and where learning how to get effective key messages across in the best way is crucial, otherwise that opportunity could be wasted.
It’s also worth remembering that even for B2B organisations engagement with the media could happen on a different level and could be highly reactive in nature. Crises can happen to anyone and reputations can be wiped out if handled badly. Every organisation is vulnerable and for B2B companies it might just be the unthinkable that happens – it could be your systems that have failed, or a part you supplied that’s led to an accident.
While communicating in a crisis can take many forms, handling the media should always be part of any crisis communications plan. Simply burying your head in the sand isn’t a great option under these circumstances and learning how to react when the media comes knocking is an excellent method of preparing for when things go wrong. It might not necessarily be John Humphrys you have to answer to but there’s every chance you’ll need to protect the reputation of your business.
We’ll be covering more ways to engage effectively with the media and how to manage in a crisis in the coming weeks.