An organization’s marketing and communications team can learn a lot from online training sessions, but there’s no substitute for customized communications training that’s delivered by experienced PR professionals. These custom communications training programs are tailored to fit a company’s specific needs.
Ask yourself six questions to determine the communications training that would be best for your team:
- How many staffers would benefit from PR training?
- How specialized are your team’s roles?
- How experienced are your team members?
- Are there structured and intentional coaching and mentoring programs already in place for your team members?
- What skills does your marketing and PR plan require to be successful?
- In what areas do you see the greatest needs for staff improvement?
With these answers, a professional communications coach can advise you on the best kinds of training for your team.
For example, it may make sense to train less experienced team members on the fundamentals of PR and marketing before they move into advanced or specialized topics. For seasoned pros who are moving into specialized roles, it can be helpful to supplement group sessions with individual training sessions that are focused on closing each person’s skills gap.
The potential topics may seem endless. Here are five communications training sessions worth considering for your team:
Clear, concise and powerful writing can improve open rates of your e-newsletters, increase comprehension of complicated topics and boost social media engagement.
A talented writing coach can teach your team how to write shorter, punchier content, interview with a purpose, balance SEO best practices with helpful content to readers, and write for effective, sharable social media.
Media training helps spokespeople feel more confident and comfortable completing interviews, and provides PR pros with peace of mind that interviews will be completed successfully. Beyond media interviews, media training teaches internal experts how to be effective presenters as they do webinars and are interviewed for internal videos. Plus, it helps the PR team identify department heads who might have otherwise been overlooked for such roles.
The training should cover how to:
- Make comments tight yet compelling,
- Effectively work with reporters,
- Succeed in today’s fast-paced media environment,
- Deliver quality messages in a conversational way,
- Feel confident in completing TV interviews.
Then, participants should do mock interviews and coaches should provide on-the-spot feedback to show the ideas in action. This allows the PR department to see who is ready to talk in public and who needs more training and practice.
Presentation training is similar in some ways to media training. Presentation training includes more detailed discussion of:
- Using body language,
- Giving examples for the points you make,
- Taking key pauses,
- Strategies designed to make your next speech both entertaining and useful for the audience.
Practice sessions are critical. These mock presentations can be used to evaluate the speaker, do real-time coaching, and to impart rules of the road that will help the speaker in the future.
Crisis communications training
A crisis is any event that has the potential to seriously damage a company’s reputation. It’s more than an onsite accident or losing a major lawsuit. A crisis can be a negative review on Glassdoor from a disgruntled former employee, allegations of misdeeds or inappropriate behavior, cybersecurity breaches, or a flood of customer complaints online.
Smart organizations prepare for a possible crisis long before it occurs, knowing that it’s not if, but when a crisis occurs. During crisis communications training, crisis communications experts guide companies in evaluating the risks and creating a plan with several example scenarios. Then they hold messaging and media training exercises with company leaders on delivering key messages, handling aggressive interviews, and determining what information should be disseminated during different phases of the crisis.
Now, how do you select who does your communications training? Find a PR firm that leverages its trainers’ experience in communications and journalism by holding interactive communications training sessions that give useful, real-world tips and give participants the opportunity to put those tips into action.
These initial sessions should launch an ongoing marketing and communications training program for your team. Continually assess your staff’s skills and opportunities for professional development. The result: high-performing employees who are ready to successfully implement PR and marketing programs. And you’ll get appreciation from your employees, who will love that your organization is offering quality, customized communications training that doesn’t cost them a cent.