For communicators and PR professionals, so much has changed about how we approach our jobs over the past decade. Content will always be king, but if you compare how we distribute it to audiences now versus 10 years ago, there are lots of differences. However, if you compare how organizations go about conducting media training in 2005 vs 2015, you would see very little difference. Probably, if I showed you two different trainings from both years, you wouldn’t be able to determine which was 2005 or 2015. There is tremendous potential to differentiate and improve the process through online learning and a “flipped classroom” (giving attendees an exercise in advance to an in-person session).
From my experiences, typical media trainings involve a PR professional or journalist addressing a group of individuals in a room. That session lasts about an hour or two. Then in a follow-up session, a few of the individuals in the room are put in front of a camera or mock interview set up. The rest of the participants observe how the interviewee performs. The exercise is followed by a dialogue between the group and instructor. Afterwards, everyone goes their merry way with the assumption that they are either media trained and ready to go talk to Wolf Blitzer on CNN or petrified and never wanting to speak with a journalist.
There is value to this process and any form of solid training is better than nothing at all. However, what percentage of the individuals taking part in this type of training leave the room and then take part in an interview the next day? For most organizations, I assume the answer is very few. Usually, the media opportunities don’t come up until a few weeks or months down the road. For these individuals, how much of the information can they retain from a one-off course conducted a few months back? For me, the answer would be very little. That’s probably the case for many others as well, as research on the Forgetting Curve from the University of Texas notes.
There is a reason we are told not to cram for an exam the night before, but rather to study regularly over an extended period of time. These one-off media trainings often have the feel of cramming for an exam the night before, only there is no hard deadline.
Enter online learning and the flipped classroom model as a means to enhance the learning experience for media training attendees. For the past several months, I have been putting together a Media Training for Academics online course. Included are eight short training videos specifically on how academics can best conduct media interviews. Follow-up exercises encourage the academics to put into practice the concepts. PR professionals working for organizations or agencies should consider deploying their own video course content for their clients / colleagues as part of their own media training programs. Here’s why:
1. Once you have done one really good video on a topic, you have that available for any colleague. So while it will take you time to do such a video, it will ultimately save you time once deployed.
2. You have the potential to scale your training. For example, in some organizations (like many of the schools I am familiar with in a higher education setting), trainings are done once a year and any professor could attend. The problem is many who were interested just simply couldn’t fit the trainings into their busy schedule. Perhaps you have the same issue in that there are people interested in getting trained, but they can’t get it to work for their schedule. With an online learning component, that is no longer a valid excuse as your colleagues can learn when and where they want.
3. You have the possibility to “flip the classroom” for live training. So for example, before attendees come to your in-person training, encourage them to watch a few different videos trainings in advance. Then maximize your time in person to discuss the videos or jump right into mock interviews.
4. The content can serve as an ongoing resource for your colleagues. So for example, maybe you will have a session on how to write an Op Ed. Your colleague might only use that training one time a year, but nevertheless it will be readily available for him / her on demand.
5. It will make you feel more versed and confident as a professional. Any content creator knows that one of the add-on benefits of writing about your craft is that it makes you more knowledgeable. It is one thing to think you know about a particular subject. Articulating that in a short video, blog post or podcast takes the learning to another level. With online course creation and curriculum development, this is even more the case. Thinking through how you make a point, provide examples and apply application to your students is quite a task. But ultimately, it will give you more confidence in mobilizing ambassadors for your brand.
Kevin Anselmo is the Founder and Principal of Experiential Communications. Access his Media Training for Academics online course. The course is available for individual purchase, a group license and features two free demo sessions.