How to Offer Media Training to Your Clients

Getting Started, PR Updates

How to Offer Media Training to Your Clients

Jul 14, 2015 | Getting Started, PR Updates

How to Offer Media Training to Your Clients

Jul 14, 2015 | Getting Started, PR Updates

If you do any kind of media or influencer outreach for your clients, basic media training should be part of your services. There’s nothing worse than spending countless hours securing the perfect opportunity, and then watching a client blow it in just a few minutes – it’s every PR person’s nightmare!

In real life, it's not this funny:

While media training and its basic principles are second nature to Solo PR Pros, it’s a foreign concept to many client spokespeople. Never assume – just because a client knows the key messages backwards and forwards – that they understand the dynamic of an interview.

Media TrainingBecause each client situation is different, your client will need you to practice and rehearse with them the questions and key messages that apply to their specific situation. But some media training guidance is universal. Having a set of stock media training materials, which you can customize for each client, makes it much easier to prepare them in advance of when you need it (right before a quick-turnaround interview with a reporter on deadline isn’t the best time for training!).

Good basic media training materials can include:

  • Key messages- obvious, but important
  • Explanations and instructions on taking charge and guiding the interview, including bridging statements and transitions
  • Advice about how to use concise, quotable language
  • Reminders about what not to say – and education that nothing is “off the record”
  • Tips by media type – outline the specific considerations for print/online, radio/audio, television and web-based video
  • Appearance and wardrobe tips
  • Step-by-step directions for before, during and after the interview

Solo PR PRO Premium members, click here to download our Media Training Handbook Template and here to download the Key Messages and Message Mapping eBook and Templates. Not a PRO member? Learn more and join today!

When to hire a professional media trainer

There are many professionals who earn their living specializing in on-site media training – they bring cameras and other equipment to replicate the experience of an interview, and the good ones are experts at role playing. Bringing in an outside media trainer can be extremely valuable if your client has the budget for it (usually $3,000 – $5,000+). These professionals can offer additional expertise and – perhaps more importantly – they can offer third-party critiques without worrying as much about annoying the spokesperson (as you might).

Looking for an expert media trainer? Visit Solo PR Pro’s Find a PR Consultant feature and do a search or Submit a Project (for customized responses from our community).

As a Solo PR Pro, the more customizable templates we have on-hand, the more flexible we can be in meeting the needs of our clients in a timely manner – with fewer fire drills! A media training handbook can be a great addition to your arsenal.

If you share media training materials with clients, what are some of the key points you include? Share your tips with the community in the comments!


Written By Kellye Crane
Kellye Crane is the founder of Solo PR Pro, which provides the tools, education, advocacy and community resources needed for indies to succeed and grow. She's a veteran and award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience - 19 of them solo.


  1. I wholeheartedly endorse this advice. Nothing beats role playing in advance.

    If your client can’t afford a fully equipped training session using professional staging, consider doing it yourself. I’m a former broadcaster and I invested in my own HD prosumer level broadcast video camera. I conduct media training at one-third the cost. I don’t have the studio, crew or lights, but I don’t have the big price tag. This can be just as effective. Buy a camera, set it on a tripod, hit record and it works fine. I’ve gotten back the investment in my camera and then some, and now I have it to use for other projects too.

  2. Thanks for this informative piece. We launched Panic Media Training last year, largely for the issue addressed in this article–the need to recognize and practice, practice, practice interview dynamics. My training partner, Janet Kornblum, was a tech reporter at USA Today. We had faced off many times over the ten years I ran PR for and was the company’s global spokesperson. It’s fair to say that online dating had its share of unfortunate outcomes and crisis scenarios, and some of them came up in very important interviews, like “60 Minutes” or “Nightline.”

    At Panic we believe in running clients through worst-case interviews addressing an organization’s potential vulnerabilities (a full-blown crisis, competitive threats, product fails, poor financial performance, etc.). While we are always positive and supportive, we aren’t easy on clients, and they like that about us. Once you can get successfully through an interview addressing organizational vulnerabilities, you can generally ace any interview.

    One thing we’ve also noticed is that some PR agencies, and even some in-house PR people, don’t always feel comfortable telling a CEO or client that she/he needs to develop better interviewing skills, or work on attitude, demeanor, or even his or her basic knowledge of an organization’s story. We give honest feedback and have yet to have a client express anything but gratitude for being direct.

  3. There’s another equally important review I do even if the client does not ask: reviewing their website. What good is media training or any other PR work if website visitors find a sloppy, slow-to-load site that has broken links and photos resized incorrectly? Or no contact information? The worst sites are those that don’t communicate within about 5 seconds what the site is about and why people should stay.

  4. This is great advice, Gayle! Seeing themselves on camera (whether the interview will be on camera or not) always offers clients excellent insights. Fancy equipment isn’t needed to show clients those subconscious nervous habits we all have – thanks for sharing.

  5. It really does work well to have “an outsider” giving the direct feedback, when possible. Thanks, Trish!

  6. So true, Joan – thanks for sharing this reminder. The first thing a journalist or other influencer will do is go to the website – the client needs to be ready on all fronts to have a truly successful campaign.