Prepping the CEO for the Media

By Andrew Blum*

Prepping your CEO or your client’s CEO is the most important media training a PR executive ever needs to do.

While the extent of prepping and training varies by the kind of media you are facing and by the type of organization the CEO heads, the most important thing is to bring in a top media trainer to complement your efforts.

Whether your CEO heads a public or private organization, he or she is the public face of the company. Can they comfortably talk to the media about earnings, a national new product rollout, a local factory town issue, industry trends, or some negative publicity the company is facing?

Some CEOs are good with media; others shy away from it; and yet others truly need help in prepping and training. Each situation is different so plan your prep and training with that in mind.

Before delving into the heavy media training, talk to the CEO and see what their feelings are about the media. You might even want to arrange a coffee or lunch with the CEO and a reporter covering the company so the CEO can get a sense of how a reporter thinks.

Once you get a better sense of the CEO’s skills and feelings about the press, you can assess how much training they need and over how many days or sessions. If it’s a one-on-one press meeting, it’s easy to brief the CEO on the reporters, their bio, some clips and their style. If it’s a large press conference, phone call, webinar or speech with press listening or asking questions, then more in-depth prepping is needed.

Overall, make sure the CEO either gets it or is at least on board with the need for prepping or training. And after the interview or press conference is over, follow up with the CEO and see how he or she thinks it went. Repeat as necessary as more press interaction comes up. You want to make the CEO a media pro.

 *Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ablum@ajbcomms.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms

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