Is media training dead?

I have watched a number of interviews with people in the past few days mainly with sportspeople. Clearly there are quite a few who have not had any kind of training in dealing with an interview. When they have something to celebrate it is easy as no-one expects them to be particularly coherent. However, when things have been a challenge it can be a disaster as the camera is pointed at them.

When I first started working in public relations and communications ensuring people received very specific training to deal with newspaper, radio or TV interviews was a staple of working life. I remember one job where we kept a file with details of those who had been trained and what their strengths and weaknesses were. When a request for interview came through we could point them to the best person suitably trained.

All that seems like a distant memory as with the squeeze being placed on finances many organisations and businesses have side-lined any media training. Often it is only when a crisis looms that media training sessions are developed for key spokespeople. So have we got to a point when media training is dead? With the growth of social media and online news sources do we really need those old skills?

I think now we need communication training that is much broader than just dealing with a media interview. Some of the original media training skills of being interviewed are still needed but it goes much further. Staff have never before had to deal with being put in the spotlight in the way that the new technology allows people. Everyone has enough technology in the smartphones they carry as a film crew would have had a few years ago. This means everyone can be an interviewer.

The priority should be providing training so that all staff, particularly, those in frontline roles understand how the channels of communication work and what that my mean for them. Alongside that they need to know what makes a good interview and how to manage challenging situations. Media training isn’t dead but it does need to undergo a facelift.

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