In 2023 Annual Conference

Contributed by Valencia Scott, Capital Chapter

In today’s dynamic business landscape, effective communication is paramount, especially for C-suite executives who bear the responsibility of steering their organizations through various challenges and opportunities. Joel Staley, the founder of JCS Communications LLC, brings a wealth of experience in media training for C-suite executives. Key takeaways from his breakout session delved into empowering communicators to navigate their executives through the world of media with confidence.

1. When Do C-Suite Executives Need Media Training?

C-suite executives are often at the forefront of representing their organizations. Joel emphasized that media training is crucial in various scenarios, including:

  • Media Interviews: Whether facing broadcast or print media, interviews require precision and clarity. Executives must be well-prepared to communicate their messages effectively, irrespective of the interviewer’s style.
  • Keynote Addresses: Addressing a large audience demands an executive’s ability to deliver key messages while maintaining engagement and authority.
  • Panel Discussions: Contributing to panel discussions necessitates concise articulation and the ability to convey insights without overshadowing fellow panelists.
  • Town Hall Events: Town hall meetings require executives to connect with employees transparently and address their concerns confidently.
  • Q&A Situations: Spontaneous Q&A sessions demand quick thinking and a firm grasp of key messages to avoid being caught off-guard.

2. Why Do C-Suite Executives Need Media Training?

Joel underscored the critical need for media training, highlighting:

  • Reputation Management: The actions and words of senior executives can significantly impact an organization’s reputation. Media training equips them to handle situations with finesse.
  • Media Interviews Are Not Conversations: Executives must remember that media interviews are not casual conversations but opportunities to convey carefully crafted messages.
  • Social Media’s Impact: In the age of social media, where anyone can be a news producer, executives must be media-savvy to prevent misinformation.
  • Competitive Advantage: A well-prepared executive stands out, building trust with stakeholders and gaining a competitive edge.

3. Teach Effective Engagement with the Communications Team

Joel advocates for executives to collaborate effectively with their communications teams:

  • Audience Understanding: Executives should understand the target audience of the media format to tailor their messaging appropriately.
  • Source Familiarity: Knowing the journalist’s background, subject knowledge and past coverage helps in creating rapport and relevance.

4. Master the Art of Storytelling

Effective communication revolves around storytelling. Joel suggests that executives should utilize:

  • Key Messages: Articulate 3-4 key messages to ensure consistency in communication.
  • Supporting Facts: Back these messages with data, figures and examples for credibility.
  • Create Quotes: Crafting their own quotes and headlines enables executives to drive the narrative.
  • Rehearsal: Dedicate time to rehearse and refine their messaging, even encouraging them to formulate their desired headline.

5. Prepare for Different Media Formats

Each media format demands a specific approach:

  • TV/Radio: These formats have significant potential for impact, making preparation and articulation essential.
  • Print/Online: Precision in messaging is equally important, with the added challenge of conveying emotion without the visual element.

6. Getting Acquainted with the Media

Knowing the media landscape is key. Joel suggests executives familiarize themselves with local journalists and experts in advance.

7. Navigating Interviews with Precision

Joel advises executives to employ the “Bridge-Reformulate-Restate” strategy:

  • Bridge: Signal the importance of your message to the reporter.
  • Reformulate: Rephrase questions to highlight positive aspects and avoid negative language.
  • Reply: Respond using key messages, supported by facts, figures, and examples.
  • Restate: Conclude with a clear restatement of your key message.

8. Interview Simulations for continuous improvement

Joel recommends conducting interview simulations and feedback for continuous improvement. Constructive critique helps executives refine their communication skills over time.

In conclusion, Staley’s insights are a testament to the importance of effective media training for C-suite executives. By mastering communication, leaders can enhance their organizations’ reputation, engage stakeholders and secure a competitive edge in today’s dynamic business landscape.

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