With our Media Relations Conference Dec. 8-9, 2021, we’re giving readers and soon-to-be attendees a chance to meet members of this year’s speaker roster.
In this brief Q&A, we talk to Sarah Brown, director, corporate media relations at Marriott International. In a preview of her session, she discusses opportunities and challenges in training spokespeople.
PRNEWS: What is the biggest challenge in training reluctant spokespeople?
Sarah Brown: The main reason a potential spokesperson may be reluctant is lack of confidence. The key truth to impart to these trainees is that there’s not one right or best way to be a spokesperson. A spokesperson doesn’t need to fit a specific box or mold. A media trainer should focus on building the confidence of spokespersons while teaching them building-block skills that help them make the most of every media opportunity.
PRNEWS: Why media train people who are not in the C-suite?
Brown: While, of course, it is critical for your C-suite to be media trained, it’s incredibly beneficial to the entire organization to develop a deep bench of strong spokespersons. While C-suite executives are best suited for more general, over-arching company topic areas, developing subject-matter-expert spokespersons allows your organization even more opportunities to be media-relevant.
PRNEWS: What’s the biggest change to media training since the pandemic started?
Brown: The pandemic forced broadcast stations around the world–both national and local–to figure out how to accept remote broadcast feeds. While pre-pandemic, a spokesperson may have gone into a local studio or station. During the pandemic, stations had to evolve their technology to accept feeds straight from people’s homes. And thus, media trainers added a new element to trainings: how to prepare for successful remote media opportunities.
This includes everything from setting up technology, to curating your backdrop, to framing your shot and ensuring the most flattering lighting. The more a spokesperson can properly prepare in advance, the easier job the producer has and, most important, the better the media appearance will be.
PRNEWS: What behavior do you hope remains after the return to in-person?
I hope, and expect, that the option to participate in remote broadcast opportunities will remain, as this allows for both news stations and spokespersons to be more nimble and participate in more opportunities in a lower-effort, lower-cost fashion.
For more from Brown, as well as a deep dive into media training, pitching, building better relationships between PR and journalists and more, register for the PRNEWS Media Relations Conference.