The art of spin: What actually happens in media training and why is it important?


Even with the perfect pitch and media package, nailing the interview can make or break a story. That’s why our National PR Director, Tim Lele, and ex-journalist-turned-PR Strategist, Jayitri Smiles, regularly facilitate media training workshops to get our clients’ interview ready.

In fact, over the last 18 months alone, they’ve trained more than 40 spokespeople from over a dozen organisations. And despite the variety of content, angles and interview scenarios rehearsed, there are some common ‘a-ha!’ moments that occur for spokespeople as they immerse themselves in the evolving world of media.

The detailed theory session takes spokespeople behind the scenes of a newsroom, and helps them understand what journalists want, in a variety of scenarios and channels including print, online, radio, TV, podcasts and more.

Throughout the sessions Jay and Tim often have different perspectives, based on their experience on each side of the camera – crafting the best story and managing client reputations, respectively. But the one thing they always agree on is the value of a well-trained spokesperson, that can stay on brand and on message from a PR point of view. And from the journalist’s point of view, being able to deliver quotable quotes and newsworthy messages in the style and format they need.

So if you’re thinking about your next spokesperson interview, here are Tim and Jay’s top five things to remember:

What’s new in the newsroom

Did you know that journalists don’t write their own headlines? And most have policies that ban them from sharing drafted articles with a spokesperson?

A newsroom is unlike any other office – and the way it operates changes by the day. We explore how recent mergers, budget cuts and the drive for digital revenue has impacted what stories we see published every day.

By shedding light on these inner workings, spokespeople learn how to respond to reporters and know how to work with them for the best result for both parties.

Answering a question can be as easy as 1,2,3.

You might think you need to commit an entire annual report to memory before an interview. But in reality, that’s unlikely to produce the story you’re hoping for. During media training, you’ll learn how just three key messages (and a back pocket full of examples, case studies and anecdotes) can help you stay on track and shape the story you want to tell.

The art of bridging statements

Sometimes interviews can be tricky to navigate. Even the most positive piece can take an unexpected turn – just ask The Wiggles. But we’ve got a nifty little method – the bridging statement- to help you dodge the drama and stay on track. We’ll show you how the best-of-the-best have used bridging statements in the past, and once you master it yourself, you’ll be prepared for any question that comes your way.

Keeping it real

We know, you’re the expert. But here’s a tip: don’t sound TOO smart. Most journalists are generalists and want you to explain a subject matter from the very beginning. Like a 12-year old (no offence, journos). Launching in with technical terms, stats and acronyms can quickly alienate an audience and turn a journalist off. So don’t get too technical for the average Joe – we’ll work with you to cut out the corporate slang and keep it real.

Play to your strengths

It turns out practice does make perfect. And it’s probably not until you put yourself in the spotlight that you’ll find what works for you. By going through media training, you get a chance to practice under pressure, with lights and camera rolling. By working alongside your PR team, we can help determine which spokespeople are best suited to what topic areas, and provide the coaching and focus areas to get them ready for their next big interview.

Practice makes perfect, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to media interviews. Through our training, spokespeople gain the skills to confidently walk into any interview scenario prepared to lead the conversation and tell the story they want reported. Every session is tailored to suit spokesperson’s experience, sector and media priorities.

If you’re a spokesperson that’s lacking confidence, or a have an exec that needs to brush up on their interview skills, then reach out to our National PR Director Tim ([email protected]) to discuss how we can craft a media training session for you.