Media training spokespeople, omnibus surveys, and more

How do I media-train a spokesperson that has difficulty delivering the proper messages?

How do I media-train a spokesperson that has difficulty delivering the proper messages?

Media training should not be viewed as a one-time experience, even for the most astute spokespeople, says John Gordon of Gordon Productions. "Though a lot can be learned in one media training session," he explains, "there are valuable pointers to be gained from having at least one training per year and a brush-up session prior to each major campaign.

"Although some spokespeople are excellent public speakers," he adds, "that doesn't ensure they will be astute at weaving in key messages or providing the media with self-contained sound bites. Nerves can play a part in making spokespeople forget key facts, become more technical than they need to, or not answer a question properly."

It's important to provide them with a well-organized Q&A sheet that includes potential questions from the media and short, simple answers to help reinforce key messages, says Gordon.

"Make certain when you media-train spokespeople, they're free of distractions and can focus on your material and the delivery," he advises. "They need to be very comfortable with the 'must-have' messages that are essential to the campaign and be able to bridge to those points at the appropriate times during the media interview."

What is an omnibus survey?

An omnibus is a streamlined service offered by research firms that typically involves a set sample size, sample definition, and field period. It's often a good fit for PR pros because it is a fast, relatively inexpensive way to do research, especially when you only need a few facts to support your press materials, says Laura Light of Harris Interactive.

"With an omnibus, you add your questions on to a survey with another organization's questions and are generally charged on a per-question basis," she explains. "However, due to its efficient nature, you are only able to do a minimal amount of customization."

Light suggests that omnibus surveys typically work well when you have a broad population you want to interview (e.g., US adults ages 18 and above), only need a few data points to drop into your press materials, and want less guidance on design and analysis.

"If you want greater depth into a topic or more specificity with the sample definition," she says, "then you may need to design a custom study to meet your needs."

What should I consider when setting a date and time for a radio media tour?

One of the most critical factors is also the most obvious: timeliness, says Curtis Gill of News Generation. A successful RMT will often find itself tied in with an event, premiere, holiday, or news hook that provides an obvious link for the listening audience.

"For example, seat-belt safety campaigns are most effective around Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, when Americans take to the roads in record numbers," he notes.

As far as the time of day, it is best to prepare your spokesperson for an early wake-up call. "Most interviews are found on the morning shows," adds Gill, "so a window between 8am and noon EST will cover these slots across the country and provide for the most effective use of the spokesperson's time."

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