It's a great benefit for getting executives on target with their messages and their issues before they go into the media limelight.
But media training will rarely result in a personality transplant when you have an arrogant executive.
I recently had a conversation with a client - a PR Manager - who has an abrasive executive scheduled to do interviews for a major product launch. Unfortunately, the exec likes to play with his Blackberry while he's talking to people and it doesn't matter who they are. Staff, other executives in his company, reporters. She wanted to know if I could convince him not to do this because he won't listen to her.
In theory it sounds fixable, doesn't it? Put him on camera, show him how rude and unsympathetic he's going to appear on live TV and in his print interviews. Then, he should mend his inconsiderate ways, correct?
If only. In this instance, it turns out this guy plays with his Blackberry with a variety of audiences including customers. He also doesn't mince words in telling customers their questions are stupid. So one or even two sessions of media training are not going to exorcise his behavior because it runs deep.
So what do you do if you're this beleaguered PR pro?
- You can try media training but please go into it with the expectation that there's an iffy chance it will work and certainly not in one or two sessions. If anyone tells you differently, find another trainer.
- Is there someone at the company who can talk to the exec and get him to listen without putting you in a compromising situation?
- Can you use another exec for the interviews since arrogant executives typically see talking to the media as a waste of their time anyway?
- Tag team the executive with a more personable peer who can ameliorate the dynamic.
- Show him videotapes of other execs who have been eviscerated by the media (although some execs might see this as executive victimization).
Have you had a similar experience? What strategies have you utilized?