“One size fits all” may be good when you’re buying a baseball cap, but it’s not good for media training.
For communications professionals, training client spokespeople to be effective in media interviews and presentations is part of the job. A cursory Internet search will reveal a plethora of tips and tricks on preparation.
However, the biggest pratfall to avoid is the notion that all clients and spokespeople are the same. Most agencies have a standard media training presentation for clients, with slight tweaking based on the client’s specific goals or business vertical. While this may be acceptable at times, it simply does not work with the military. There is not one, monolithic military client.
SDI’s decades of specialized focus on military and veteran-related communications has yielded this awareness and insight. If you’re providing media training to the military, you must approach every service member, veteran, family member, and caregiver as a distinct individual with their own set of stories, ideas, abilities, and fears.
With that in mind, SDI’s Senior Strategist Dan Gregory offers one key tip to prepare for every media training session with members of the military or veteran communities – read.
“Especially if you have never served in uniform, it is vitally important you read anything that might give you an understanding of their service, “says Dan. “I say this as a civilian – you will never truly understand their experience. However, you’ll be a more effective and trusted coach if you can try to see the world through their eyes, speak some of the same language, and appreciate how military experience is distinctly different than civilian life. “
So, what should you read? Here are some of Dan’s suggestions.
- Great military speeches like General Patton motivating the 3rd Army on the eve of the invasion of Europe, or President Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg.
- Raw first-person accounts, including fiction, such as Phil Klay’s “Redeployment,” or the great veteran writing at The War Horse.
- Accounts and explorations of the lasting impacts of war, like those told by Thomas J. Brennan and Finbarr O’Reilly in “Shooting Ghosts,” or studied by David J. Morris in “The Evil Hours.”
- Military and Veteran Affairs (VA) reporters like Quil Lawrence and Leo Shane who give you a sense of how policies dictate the lives of those who serve.
“Bottomline—read anything that gives you a sense of what it’s like to raise your hand and take an oath to serve the nation, no matter the cost. Once you begin to grasp it, you’ll begin to earn the trust of the service members, families and caregivers who you’re training, and they’ll be better prepared to share their stories with the world.”
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