Savvy communicators all know the benefits of a well-placed story in the media.
Earned media can be wildly successful at raising awareness about your brand and enhancing your credibility. By effectively merchandising media hits on digital platforms, you can amplify that success even more.
Timely placements also can help boost SEO, complement your content marketing plan and serve as an important leg of your overall marketing program. It also gives employees (and your employer) a sense of pride in your organization. After all, who wouldn’t want to see their company featured in local news, national media coverage or industry outlets?
There is a lot that goes into planning and executing an effective media relations plan: strategy, research, metrics and more, but one key piece of the puzzle is making sure your staff is prepared to talk to the media.
During a crisis, it’s common for large companies and organizations to identify one key spokesperson to handle all media requests, but when media relations is incorporated into your overall marketing strategy, you’ll want a wider net of employees to be available and properly trained. That’s why proactively putting your team through media training is a prudent idea.
When will your employees need media training?
PR pros aren’t always the best spokespeople, especially when the subject matter is challenging or complicated and requires detailed or nuanced explanations. There might be occasions when some front-line employees will talk to reporters over the phone either on background or in response to breaking events. There may even be times when they will need to appear on camera.
Here are four scenarios when you should consider putting your staff through media training:
1. Your company is hosting a media event.
Media previews, grand openings and community events are a few examples of events when you’ll want to have more than just one company spokesperson ready to talk to the media. Camera crews and reporters are often busy and on deadline, so they might reach out to any available employee at a moment’s notice. There also are occasions when there are too many reporters to deal with at particular events, making it a good idea to have several employees trained and ready to answer questions.
2. You want to raise awareness in local markets.
If your company is focused on raising awareness about a product or service to local consumers, it will be handy to have a handful of employees ready to talk about your business on local morning news shows, magazines and newspapers that often highlight local businesses.
3. Your employees are organizational leaders.
Media training gives organizational leaders an opportunity to be recognized as industry-wide leaders.
Executives and upper-level management are responsible for overseeing strategies and operations in their department, offering employees resources, support and the training and education they need for success. You might call them subject matter experts (SMEs). Leveraging their experience and expertise makes them excellent resources for pitching to trade media. Whether they could be contributing a thought leadership piece or interviewing a reporter to speak about best practices or trends, be proactive in prepping your team for media interactions.
4. You need a back-up for an important interview.
Whether reporters want to talk with someone from your organization in response to a crisis or there is an opportunity to share expertise in a thought leadership piece, don’t rely on a single person to handle all your media interviews. Life happens, and sometimes you’ll need a credible employee who can step in at the last minute.
What employees are on your media relations frontlines?
Amanda Colocho works for the Hodges Partnership, a PR firm based in Virginia. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s Gong blog.