What is a Media Trainer?

Mark Bernheimer, Media Training Pro

Media trainers are public relations specialists who help clients prepare for news interviews, podcasts, news conferences, and other communications opportunities.

Often former journalists, media trainers are contracted to help communicators understand the finer points of media engagement, anticipate reporter behavior, develop and refine key messaging, and then deliver those messages effectively during interviews.

A typical media coaching session will include “classroom” education on best practices, followed by extensive coaching and feedback through the use of recorded interview drills.

Media trainers are also useful for presentation coaching, speech training, and help with crisis communications.

Choosing the Right Media Trainer

Choosing the right media coach can make the difference between a positive training experience and a disappointing one. Since many executives approach media training with trepidation to begin with, it is vitally important to surpass their expectations.

Media Trainer Qualifications

  • Most media coaches claim a background in journalism. But not all resumés are created equal. Look for experts with major market news experience(link to mark Bernheimer page). You want someone who has covered a wide range of important stories and people, so that he/she can handle your particular media challenges.
  • Check their credentials in education and their time in the industry.
  • Ask for references, and place extra emphasis on experience within your industry. If you’re a pharmaceutical company, you don’t want a media coach who specializes in athletes. Media trainers who have worked with your colleagues and competitors will be able to hit the ground running for your training.
  • Select a media trainer who offers both onsite and virtual training(link to remote media training page) solutions, in order to provide your team with options and flexibility.

Questions to Ask

  • What does a media coaching session look like? What content do they cover? Don’t settle for only on-camera drills; there must be a comprehensive media training orientation that sets the stage for the exercises.
  • Are they up to date with their knowledge base? Qualified media trainers must be intimately familiar with the latest trends in journalism including social media, podcasts, and virtual interview techniques.
  • What atmosphere is set? Is it lively or a lecture? Will the session rely on dry PowerPoint lessons, or will instruction be varied, interactive and engaging?
  • How do they give feedback? Look for constructive criticism given in a tactful manner. The best media trainers are candid enough to illuminate challenges, but gentle enough not to bruise executive egos.
  • What support do they offer once the training is over? Avoid media trainers who practice a “hit and run” style of consulting, and disappear after the training day.

Picking the right media training agency starts with vetting the media coach. Invest in some due diligence ahead of time to ensure the best possible training experience for your team.

Mark Bernheimer

Mark Bernheimer is a former CNN correspondent and the founder of MediaWorks Resource Group, an internationally renowned media training and consulting firm.