Sometimes a media training session will leave you uncomfortable. As trainers we might have to tell you that you’re talking nonsense. On one occasion lead trainer Guy was called in precisely because the PR company involved thought their client needed to hear it.

Client confidentiality still applies so there will be no names here. The company offered a variety of legal forms online.

During the first dummy interview Guy asked who the service was aimed at.

The directors explained it was aimed at everybody. Everybody would need a form at some point.

OK, said Guy. But nothing is aimed at everybody.

“You just don’t get it,” came the reply. “We can aim this at everybody because everyone needs a legal form at some point.”

Media training and reality

He didn’t resolve that issue to his satisfaction and the client didn’t listen which was a shame, because the concept itself was good. Sadly the client wouldn’t listen to the question so they missed out.

Here’s the thing. The fact that a product or service could in theory apply universally doesn’t mean that’s going to happen in reality.

Let’s take food as an obvious example. If we don’t eat, we die. This is why companies like Tesco employ well over 300,000 people according to Statista (the actual number may fluctuate but we can agree “loads”). A quick Google suggests around 100,000 people fewer work for Sainsbury’s but it’s still a vast number.

Even with that many people and providing something as essential as food, however, neither company believes it sells to literally everybody. Of course those numbers don’t reflect the people in marketing but those numbers will be significant too.

So we get back to Guy’s client with the 30-odd staff in total, believing the team could and would sell to literally everybody. No journalist or other media professional would take that seriously. The marketing wouldn’t stack up, the website would almost certainly crash because of the sheer numbers and for all sorts of other reasons “everybody” can’t be a client unless you’re in central government. The PR company that commissioned Guy actually asked him to make this point because they’d tried and the client didn’t listen to them either. The underlying problem was that the client wanted the PR function and media to amplify the message unchallenged.

This isn’t how it works at best. If you get a media trainer in, it’s really worth listening. A good one won’t help you formulate and articulate just any old thing. They’ll test your message, prod it and find holes. It’s a friendly face doing it rather than a hostile journalist who’s going to go away and write.

It’s a very valuable exercise but only if you’re going to listen. We’re here to help – if you’re in PR and your client needs putting through their media paces, we’d love to hear from you – click here for our contact page.