“Time is an illusion – timing is art.”
Timing in the context of media training is, indeed an “art” – and it’s often overlooked to the detriment of the session.
There are many variables at play when considering an external media trainer, some controllable and many outside the control of the media/communications executive making the decision. But timing plays a pivotal role in the effectiveness of the session meaning the controllable factors must be identified and leveraged in the early stages of the engagement process.
What we often see is well-intentioned organisations and communications executives who identify a need for spokesperson training and make a few calls and begin the process. But then busy schedules get in the way. This can be competing imposts on time, reports, budgets, meetings – just the realities of management. It means media training, which was once viewed as crucial, is no longer a priority.
But when the timing of the training misses that “sweet spot” in the days and weeks before a major announcement, around the time of issues becoming public or simply seasonal realities, it can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the session. It’s fair to say that most organisations, be they emergency management, health, higher education, government and the corporate sector all have fairly logical busy periods.
Let’s use bushfire management as an example. The WORST time to deliver training to spokespeople in this sector is in the peak fire season. The potential spokespeople are vigilant, concentrating on their core business of protecting communities, so are unlikely to engage fully in the crucial training which will help them effectively communicate their life and property saving messages.
Effective media training needs to be carefully planned and delivered in the months leading up to the planned-burn and peak fire season, so developing and delivering effective messages becomes an integral part of the preparation process and strategy.
While fire management is just one example, if you think about it, most organisations have a period, an event or a season which is critical to their business or function. Generally, this is the worst time for training and the weeks and months preceding this are a much better fit.
Spokespeople in any sector respond far better to training when there is a realistic, meaningful event or issue on the organisation’s media horizon. They are simply more engaged and likely to benefit from what becomes contextualised training – rather than a “cookie cutter” or “off the shelf” session.
Of course, issues and situations arise for which it is more difficult to pre-plan, but for the most part, with careful consideration, the timing of media training can be planned and as a result, highly effective. To quote the author Stefan Edmunds, “timing is an art.” But it doesn’t need to be difficult.
Please feel free to contact Saltwater Media for an obligation free discussion around your organisation’s media training requirements.
Luke Waters 0418 147 157