Making media and messaging training a priority for your team, whether it’s a refresher or the first of its kind for your organization, is a smart initial step in protecting and strengthening your brand. It’s tempting to leave a productive training session and quickly return to to-do lists and business as usual, but scheduling time to do these five things after media and messaging training will ensure you get the most out of the experience.
1. Create or update your plan.
After media and messaging training, it’s important to put to paper all of the ideas discussed and best practices learned. Many training events are meant to be conversational and collaborative, so it’s essential to have an outside team or at least one attendee assigned to take notes. Many times the organization hired to carry out the training can also assist in crafting or updating your communications plan. Or at the very least, they can provide notes and analysis to be distributed to all participants. Having the folks who presented the training (probably PR pros) build out your plan can provide a fresh and focused perspective.
Pro Tip: Remember to incorporate feedback from your team. Not only will their ideas bolster your plan because they know your brand the best, but having a sense of ownership will make them more likely to champion the implementation of new or changed protocols. Stakeholders represent another group that can help sponsor plan amendments. Ask them to review new messaging and procedures, and use their feedback to tweak the communications plan.
2. Don’t set it and forget it.
We always tell clients that a communications plan should become a living, breathing business tool. Whether it’s a plan or notes from training, keep the document off the top shelf of your dusty office bookcase. Make edits as needed. Businesses change and so do industry practices and standards. A chain of command for message approval might change as leaders retire or as a company evolves. And a careful roadmap for traversing last decade’s media landscape might need to be tweaked for today. Make a point to review documents quarterly, and don’t forget the red pen.
3. Keep your ears and eyes open.
It’s imperative that you keep a pulse on what’s happening in your industry. Watch to see how other businesses present themselves in the media. Learn from their mistakes and successes. Get a sense of the questions being asked and the topics being discussed. Critique what you see to be best prepared for the inevitable reporter call or flood of incoming messages on Twitter.
4. Practice to improve.
Practice will never make perfect, but it will keep you agile and calm in the face of a media event. If your training included a video or interview component, make sure participants receive quality feedback, including ways to field media questions and improve message delivery. Provide quarterly opportunities for your team to practice to maintain confidence and continue to improve skills as topics change over time. Practice is especially important if you’ve included a crisis component to your communications plan. Your team probably does not encounter crisis daily, but being ready to act in the face of an extreme event is vital to keeping your reputation intact.
5. Offer the opportunity to others.
If you found the media and messaging training to be beneficial for senior management or a select group (perhaps the communications team), consider casting the net a bit wider. Sometimes it’s difficult for department leads to find time to transfer newly learned practices to their teams. Or, a department lead may realize that her group would benefit from its own individualized exercise. Your official spokesperson may be primed for presentation, but today’s media landscape has no set boundaries. Citizen journalists are empowered to seek out information and have smartphones at the ready, so arming a majority of your team with media and messaging best practices is a strategic investment. If your higher-ups found the training helpful, chances are other employees will too.
Are You Prepared?
While it’s nearly impossible to predict when a crisis will occur, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure your company is prepared.