Media training and spokesperson coaching are vital to…

Media training and spokesperson coaching are vital to a company and a brand’s success – plain and simple. No practitioner of PR ever goes into the profession thinking: “I want to clean up a bunch of messes.”  That’s why we need to be proactive when it comes to sharing our messages with the public and thinking about who we put  front and center to deliver that message. Noeleen McGrath, award-winning television news journalist, media trainer and video producer, spoke to the chapter at the Sept. 29 lunch presentation. Here are her expert tips:

The spokeperson:

  • It takes 1/10 of a second to form an opinion about someone based on his/her appearance.
  • Pick bold, solid colors when on camera – don’t wear clothing with patterns.
  • Don’t wear big distracting accessories like jewelry or pins on your lapel.  Remember if you are seated, people only see you from the waist up.
  •  Spokespeople cannot be emotional or aggressive – be calm and cool.
  •  Sometimes you should pick an average Joe/Jane so people can relate to them…and they generally need to be easy on the eyes.
  • Think about what kind of message might be best for the different roles within an organization. If you are delivering news about finances, have the CFO speak.
  • In a crisis, you need to stick with the main likable spokesperson, even when the story gets bigger (i.e. If kids are affected, pick a mom to speak).
  • There may be a dark horse at the company who ends up being a Rockstar. Get more people media trained, the CEO isn’t always the best pick.

The Message:

  • Don’t lie – it will come back and bite you later.
  • Pick three main messages of 4-7 second sound bites and stick with them. Repetition helps the message stick.
  • Make sure your spokespeople are subject matter experts, but they must be confident (and attractiveness helps too).
  • Choose your words carefully – strong words like evacuate, disaster, etc. can cause unnecessary alarm.

Learn more from Noeleen, the “media training whisperer”,  in this short video:


Noeleen now travels around the world tailoring media training, spokesperson coaching and presentation skills training programs to fit an individual’s needs and style for her own company, McGrath Communications, based in Chicago.