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Grace-Anne Belger is the Divisional Head Media Training Division at Meropa Communications. We spent some time with her to find out why SMEs require media training and which employees within a business needs to be empowered with these skillsets.

 Why do company leaders and senior staff need to be media trained?

Reputation is how people instinctively feel, act or behave towards your brand – it is a perception, not always a reality and it is based on emotion. Reputation is a measure of how much the community trusts you – it is more important than your bottom line.

The media is a powerful tool in this regard. Media interaction shapes reputation – positively and negatively. If your organisation has a good relationship with the media, then your reputation will hopefully remain positive and in times of crisis, the better they know you, the more chances they will give you for right of reply. Strong interviews send out the correct message. Stakeholders will remember and trust you and you will be forgiven for your mistakes. Unprepared and unstructured interaction with the media can stir up a crisis.

 Which level of staff should attend this training?

Almost all levels of staff require training on how to deal with the media on different levels. Senior management, especially spokespersons, require in-depth media training and practice and it needs to be repeated constantly. Middle to lower level management need to know how the media works and how it affects the organisation, particularly in a crisis. Many of the skills taught in media training such as body language and the importance of key messages are essential for all daily interaction in the work place, even if it is not the media.

What will attendees learn to do?

They will have a better understanding of the importance of reputation and how the media can affect it. The key to all communication is message. How to find a story to tell about your organisation to make messages richer. The value of preparation in all interactions with the media. How to handle difficult questions and gain more confidence to face the media.

If you attended a while back, do you need to go for a refresher?

Absolutely – people tend to forget many details in the busyness of their daily life. Real-life practice is always valuable to re-learn a skill.

Do you provide customised media training?

Every session is customised for the client in question. While there are basic rules – case studies change, issues relevant to each client is specific and mock interview questions are always tailored to the specific client.

Is it affordable for SMEs and/or start-up companies?

Unfortunately, there are certain fixed costs such as the camera crew and venue and the presenter’s time. We can deal with each request on its own merits.

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