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It’s time to redefine media training's rules of engagement

Five years ago, I wrote about the significance of rewriting the guide to media training spokespeople. Since then, the world has been through several disruptions, including a global pandemic, widespread retrenchment of editorial staff, the passing of Bill C-18 in Canada and the rise of artificial intelligence, to name a few. 

In a span of just a few years, these critical, novel and often overlapping disruptions have squeezed newsrooms even tighter. With newsroom staff having been cut by 70 per cent, the roles remaining staff must play are ever increasing, with the expectations for what they deliver becoming more demanding than ever before. 

And as newsrooms change, so too must the skill + techniques of a spokesperson. And with this, comes redefining media training rules of engagement. But, how? 

First, we must start with what the news is (and is not!). 

Unless you’re talking about a major M&A, a rebranding or some other industry shifting move good or bad, the brand is often not the news. Your target audience is the news. Sorry, I hate to break it to you, but this is still true. 

And that continues to be my core beef with conventional media training. It coaches would be spokespeople to promote a series of key messages, products or services in a technically sound manner, but not in a compelling newsworthy way.  It’s more about training people to survive an interview with one’s credibility intact than it is to deliver a story that actually moves the bar on a brand’s business objective and reputation.  

Especially now with newsrooms being squeezed tighter than ever, conventional media training really doesn’t cut it anymore, especially when it comes to securing desired editorial and business outcomes. 

Ideally, the aim of any media placement is to spark a productive and meaningful dialogue with would be customers, business prospects, employees and/or stakeholders. Otherwise, its an exercise in ego. And that’s not what we want. 

What we do want – and help enable and create – are well-media-trained and motivated spokespeople who are well-versed in some evergreen 21st century principles, including: 

  1. News and newsworthiness need tension, and you must serve it to reporters on a silver platter at the top of the interview. 

  1. A media interview is very similar to leading a standard business meeting — if it’s your meeting, you lead the agenda towards a desired outcome. The same holds true for a media interview. It’s your interview – lead it. And yes, there are tools for you to bridge “fork in the road” issues or questions with confidence. 

  1. A media interview tells a story that follows a linear flow. Yes, linear. It’s not about concise sound bites, a flood of data or random key messages.  In fact, when you master our module’s formula, you can make any proactively negotiated media interview 99.9 per cent predictable and effective.  

There is obviously much more that goes into the making of an effective, credible and sought-after spokesperson, including a lot of practice and experience.  But the skills required today are very different from the ones pre-pandemic. The game has fundamentally changed – so too should your media training. 

Our Problem-Solving Approach 

APEX’s media training leverages its distinct training module to help advance organizational objectives via expert media engagement. While we always review best practices on presentation and technical delivery, we emphasize strategic sequential messaging and editorial. Because it’s not just about how you say something, but also about what you’re saying – and why. 

About The Trainer: Kenneth Evans (he/him) Managing Partner, APEX Public Relations

A 25+ year senior corporate communications strategist and communications trainer to some of the globe’s top brands, Kenneth has carved out a reputation for cultivating compelling brand narratives that protect and advance corporate reputations.

Through his proprietary strategic narrative module, Kenneth has helped brands such as BMO Financial Group, The Red Cross, Emergency Response Professionals, Google Canada, Samsung, Coca-Cola, RSA Insurance and RBC and Municipal Bureaucrats among many others implement new corporate strategies – married with the right media training to engage and provoke a diversity of stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, the media and social media, at a level that achieves desired organizational goals. 

How Ken helps teams and organizations win:         

  • Completed more than 160 training sessions in 2023.            

  • Media trainer for several top 100 brands in North America.              

  • One of the few media coaches in Canada with 20+ years of expert experience.  

  • Kenneth’s training has improved quality earned editorial outcomes for clients by 10-15% on average. 

To schedule a media training session, contact Ken:   


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