15 Actionable Media Training Tips from Former Journalists


August 23, 2021

Are you wondering why you need media training tips? Imagine this: You’re at a live television interview. The studio lights are on. The journalist next to you smiles. Then they ask a question about your company’s next product release.


It seems innocent enough—but the release is still top secret. Talking about the details would break company policy.


The pressure is high, the cameras are rolling, and the journalist looks at you expectantly, waiting for a response. What do you do?


All too often, the response is to panic, and reveal details that shouldn’t have been made public. We’ve seen this a lot: Several of us at Liaison are ex-gaming and visual effects journalists.


We know exactly how important it is for 3D professionals to be prepared for every interview. That’s why we’ve put together our 15 expert media training tips for speaking to the press below.


Read on to get started, and don’t forget to get in touch for media training that’s tailored to you.


What is Media Training?

Media training is training that’s designed to help company spokespeople communicate with journalists.


This helps spokespeople become more confident when dealing with the press.


It also helps spokespeople be more effective: representing the company in a more engaging way while concisely communicating all the right messages.



Why is Media Training Important?

You’re probably a busy CEO or technical lead. Why would you ever even need to worry about doing an interview in the first place?


The truth is: because it’s close to impossible to avoid one. The 3D industry is small, and if you’re an industry leader, word will eventually get around to the media.


Before long, you’ll be expected to discuss key industry trends, and chat through the ins and outs of your next products or projects. Your opinion will matter.


That’s why it’s so important to have some media training. After media training, you’ll be a confident spokesperson that’s excited about every interview.


You’ll learn to avoid appearing too cagey or nervous. You’ll also learn how to avoid surprise tactics like the ones in our intro above—which happen more often than you would think.



15 Media Training Tips from Journalists


Media Training Tip 1: Don’t shy away from interview opportunities.

If you’re so worried about saying the wrong thing that you avoid interviews altogether, that’s never a good sign. Avoiding journalists means your company’s marketing and press coverage will suffer.


Instead, always take the opportunity to take control of your narrative. Simply do a media training brush-up in the days before the interview so you’re confident that the training is fresh in your mind.



Media Training Tip 2: Create your story.

Before you go to the interview, make sure you have a clear story in mind.


Check in with departmental leads at your company and prepare your core message.


If there’s any time-sensitive news that would be beneficial to discuss, you can shape your answers to include all the details when you get to the interview.


Also, try to have a couple of key soundbites or statistics in mind ahead of time: numbers and analogies always resonate well with audiences.


Media Training Tip 3: Research the outlet.

As ex-journalists, we know from experience that there’s nothing worse than interviewing a spokesperson that has no clue what your magazine, TV show, or podcast is all about.


Before the interview, make sure to research the reporter. Read the magazine or watch the show, and familiarize yourself with key topics, areas of interest, and the target audiences the outlet is trying to reach.


During the interview, make sure your answers reflect what you learned in your research.


Don’t give a long anecdote about color grading if the magazine that’s interviewing you is more focused on VFX!

Media Training Tip 4: Request questions.

Always try to obtain a list of questions from the journalist ahead of your interview, then prepare some bullet point answers that you can rely on on the day.


Even if you don’t get questions from the journalist, prep your answers to common and to hard questions like:


  • Can you tell us more about yourself and your company?
  • Is your company profitable?
  • What were your initial objectives for project X?
  • What were your challenges/successes on the project?
  • How is your company different from competitors?


Media Training Tip 5: Get to know your interviewer.

Try to take some time to get to know the journalist interviewing you ahead of the recording if possible. Talk to them about their work and the narrative they are hoping to create.


Let the journalist get to know you too—just remember that anything you say can be on the record from the moment you get on that Zoom call or walk into the room.


Media Training Tip 6: Know where you need to stand.

When interviewing on camera, make sure you ask the journalist where you should sit or stand, and whether you should look directly at the camera when they press that record button.


That way, your final video will look the part next to all other interviews on their platform.


You don’t want to be the only expert looking at the camera when all other experts on their show are looking at the journalist!


Media Training Tip 7: Bring a PR professional.

You should always check with your PR team before going on record.


If you’re doing a video interview in a busy location like an event or tradeshow floor, it’s hugely important to bring a PR professional to help calm your nerves and prep the scene.


For instance, they can help chat to the journalist, steer the interview where possible, ensure the background of the video is free of clutter, and block others from accidentally walking in front of the camera.


In the hustle and bustle of a trade show, these types of details can be easy to overlook.


Media Training Tip 8: Don’t forget to laugh.

It can be tricky to be relaxed in an interview situation, but try to keep things light-hearted if you can.


This is especially true if the interview is on camera. Try to smile and be as personable as possible. Gesticulating can help, as can telling a light joke at the very beginning of the conversation.


Media Training Tip 9: Try to simplify your language.

In an industry like 3D, it can be tempting to hide behind a lot of technical jargon to sound as knowledgeable as possible.


But technical jargon will make it easy to lose your audience: something you don’t want in an interview.


The goal is to make this journalist want to interview you again and encourage other journalists to do the same. The best way to do this is to not only create an interesting discussion but a discussion that’s accessible and open to all.


Media Training Tip 10: Be concise.

As well as using simplified language whenever possible it’s also crucial to be concise.


Always try to give the journalist interesting soundbites they can use, rather than a long, overcomplicated answer that loses the interest of your audience!


Media Training Tip 11: Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.

Try to relax and not worry about whether you say something wrong. If you’re unsure how to answer just take some time to gather your thoughts.


If you aren’t certain of a specific fact, don’t be afraid to say I don’t know or steer the conversation in another direction with phrases like:


  • I can’t answer that, but what I do know is…
  • I don’t know the answer to that right now, but I will follow up.
  • I’m not sure I understand. Can you rephrase the question?


Media Training Tip 12: Remember your manners.

A few good manners go a long way in an interview situation. Try not to interrupt and never assume others know less than you do.


Also, be aware of body language: sit up straight, and always try to thank the interviewer once the recording is getting wrapped up.



Media Training Tip 13: Follow up with materials.

After your interview is complete, it’s good practice to follow up with the journalist over email.


Thank them again and send through any additional information, resources, or imagery they might find useful in completing their piece.


Any links to relevant press releases or company news will be hugely appreciated when the journalist crafts their story.


Media Training Tip 14: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Last but not least: rehearse every single interview you do before you do it. Use the questions the journalist sent through to help, and anticipate any additional tough questions you may get asked on top of them.


This is also a great opportunity to go through your game plan for how to stay on track when faced with surprises.


Media Training Tip 15: Offer to be a source for future stories.

If you’ve done the work, this last tip should be the easiest to achieve.


Once the interview is published, follow up with the journalist to say thank you once again, and let them know you’d love to be considered an industry expert for future interviews.



Ready for a more tailor-made media training plan that’s unique to you? Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how we can help.