As a PIO, giving media training sessions yourself is one of the best ways to get to know the your scientists, and for the scientists to get to know you too. And maybe just as important: it is great fun to do! Below you’ll find a toolkit we’ve developed, which will help you set up your own media training.
If you ever decide to give media training yourself, these are the three main points you want to bring across to the scientists you are training:
1. Never give an interview unprepared. Always take time to think about what you want to say, the points you want to make, and the examples and numbers to illustrate and support those points.
2. As the one being interviewed you have a lot of control over the course of the interview. Using your examples, and simple techniques like ‘bridging’ (sparingly), you can steer the interview in the direction you would like it to go.
3. Make sure that what you are saying is relevant to the audience looking at, listening to or reading the interview. What is it to them, why would they want to know this, or in two simple words: ‘So what?‘.
If the scientists in your training – whether it is short or long – take away with them these essentials, you can consider it a success. The format and guide to this ‘Media training in a box’ have been developed with these three basics in mind.
Input came from three experienced trainers, all of them having an extensive track record in training and advising scientists on how to cope with their media appearances:
- Fred Balvert works at Erasmus MC, and has literally (co-)written the book on scientists and media: ‘Prepare for 15 seconde of fame‘.
- Johan Vlasblom was a press officer at Utrecht University where he introduced media training sessions for scientists. He now runs his own communication agency Big Easy Communicatie, writing articles, helping scientists develop communication strategies, and training them.
- Roy Meijer was a colleague of Johan in Utrecht, and is now a science communication advisor at TU Delft. He advises scientists on communication issues and gives media training sessions in Delft, but also at general science communication meetings and conferences. As a board member of SciCom NL he initiated the making of these tools.
All the hard work putting together the format and guide was done by science communication students from TU Delft. In what is called a Crash Case in their student association InterSECtion, they interviewed the three training experts together in one afternoon session, and took away that input to produce what you now have before you.
We all hope these tools and our advice on how to develop your own media training are helpful for you setting up your own media training, and we of course very much welcome your feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org).