Events highlight importance of media training for school leaders

Posted August 24, 2012

Events of the past few weeks and issues that will soon confront schools are why principals and board chairs should all have a media training course under their belt. Tragic deaths of pupils and horrific sexual abuse by teachers have suddenly thrust a few schools into the national media spotlight. Some have done well from a media training perspective, while others have been conspicuous by their absence. Often people learn the hard way that media training should be a fundamental part of professional development. A media interview is like no other conversation, and without knowing the difference, leaders of all disciplines can get themselves into all sorts of trouble. They can harm their reputation, whether they are a school or other organisation. This reputation damage can also happen if school leaders don't front up in the media. They may not always have the answers, but their community needs to know they care and are responding to the situation. The problem is that many have a fear of talking to journalists. They think the media is out to get them, and believe they will be humiliated, misquoted or taken out of context. But this will only happen to those who don't know how to handle a media interview. Following our media training sessions, clients have a new appreciation of the media, and begin to see interviews as an opportunity rather than a trial. School leaders will soon be struck with another issue that will create media attention. By the publication of league tables of exam results, school principals and board chairs will have to know how to defend their school's results in the media. But without media training, they will not know how to control what is written about their school's results. If their results are not up to scratch, or they are unable to communicate why their students have done poorly, they will seriously harm their school's reputation. Hopefully they won't learn the importance of media training the hard way, but be ready for that dreaded phone call.
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