The ROI on Executive Training
Public opinion matters now more than ever. Reputations can be ruined by one misstep on social media or an errant comment in the news. CEOs and other executives in leadership positions have a responsibility to not only communicate effectively, but also to be the trusted ambassador or spokesperson for their companies or organizations.
This is no easy task. The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer again showed that CEOs are one of the least trusted spokespeople.
The public continues to look at those in leadership with skepticism. The examples for why this exists are countless – from crises in leadership to global scandals.
The Edelman Trust Barometer survey highlights 16 key attributes to building trust – which include taking responsible actions to address an issue or a crisis; and communicating frequently and honestly on the state of its business.
With the volume of information we are receiving every minute, it is imperative now more than ever that companies invest in media training. Here’s why:
Define your position. Media training is a strategic session. It is an opportunity to make sure the strategy and the messages are correct. It is a chance for those in leadership to align what they are saying and what the company is doing. If these do not align, it will be clear to both the media and the public and trust will be eroded. Media training is used to test and revise strategic messages, with insight from an objective trainer who can find the holes in strategy and give constructive feedback.
Protect your reputation. Delivering strong, concise messages and being able to anticipate tough questions from reporters is a key part of media training. A good interviewer will bait and trap a spokesperson in a heartbeat. Knowing what to look for and how to avoid those landmines by responding in a calm and informative manner is integral to being viewed as a trusted leader.
Prepare for a crisis. While the Edelman Trust Barometer shows that CEOs are one of the least trusted spokespeople, in times of crises, the media and the public expect leaders to be front and center. How a leader responds in a crisis can forever alter public opinion of an organization – in a negative, or a positive way. Crisis media training focuses on ensuring leaders are responding in a transparent, credible and timely manner, while faced with increased pressure from media – multiple cameras and reporters, very difficult and often, aggressive questions.
Promote your brand. Humans communicate through stories. It is how we learn and how we best remember. Media training is much more than delivering key messages. No one will be more excited about an organization’s key messages than the organization itself. Media trainers will work with spokespeople to help them shape stories and paint visual pictures, while promoting their brand. Media will more likely use quotes and comments that tell a good story about the brand than a canned message that has little meaning or value.
Build trust. This is often the most difficult thing to do in media training, but it is the most important for any leader. Media and the public are much more attune to those who are message trained and can hear the tactics they use to avoid answering tough questions. They are looking for authenticity and transparency. Trust is built by aligning what and how someone says something in an authentic and transparent manner. Media trainers will take the time to discover a spokesperson’s specific communication style and work with them to hone those skills.
Finally, it is said that 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. Most of how we get our information is visually, through video, so how a leader appears is as important as what they are saying. The public often makes a decision about whether they trust someone based on appearances alone. Media training offers a safe place to practice performance based skills and an opportunity to get immediate, expert feedback.
Written by Bridgitte Anderson, Senior Vice President and media trainer at Edelman Vancouver