Media training ‘Tip of the Month’: key message sessions
Any organisation with a media profile should hold regular key message sessions. Failure to do so is virtually guaranteed to land spokespeople in trouble during encounters with journalists, yet many companies and charities make the mistake of not scheduling regular sessions to review, refine and develop their messages. Despite the best efforts of press and comms teams, many interviews are unplanned and, even in planned media activity, interviewees may go off-message.
It’s surprising how often spokespeople are unable to answer the most obvious questions put by journalists, simply because they don’t know what the company line is. Not only is this an embarrassing faux pas but it’s a huge lost opportunity to get your products/services/brand in the public eye, courtesy of free media coverage.
The only way to control and interview is to control it in advance and that means making sure your key executives, the faces of your organisation, know what your organisation is saying on key issues at all times and are fluent in these messages.
How often should you hold key message sessions?
As often as possible. Organisations with very little media profile should review their messages at least once a quarter but ideally every month. If you’re in the news regularly, then once a week is ideal.
Who should attend the sessions?
Ideally the whole press/comms team but this isn’t always possible. At the very least the Head of Communications/Press Office, who can sign off messages and the people responsible for briefing and rehearsing spokespeople must attend. Spokespeople should also attend as often as they can, so they can influence the messages that they have to deliver.
What should key message sessions cover?
This depends on how often your sessions take place but as a guide they should cover:
- What’s happening in your business
- Your position on industry/sector issues
- Your position on relevant news stories (competitors, economy, legislation etc)
- Review of which spokespeople speak on which matters
- Review of which spokespeople are available that day/week/month
- Review of crisis team members and crisis comms plan
- Stress-testing of messages (role play)
- Spokesperson rehearsal (as on-going training)
If you have an urgent media training enquiry or would like to book a course, please contact the TNR team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7963 7163 and they’ll be delighted to assist you.
See all our Media Training courses and workshops here.
Our monthly Media Training ‘Tip of the Month’ is brought to you by Bridgid Nzekwu, Head of Media Training at TNR, Press Association.