How Do I Become A Media Trainer?

I recently received a tweet from Heather Harder, a North Carolina college student, who asked: “What should college students interested in media training be doing now to prepare?”

That’s a good question, one I hear not only from college students, but also from other professionals hoping to make a career switch. So in today’s post, I’ll give you my thoughts regarding making your way into our exciting industry.

First, check out my article about how to select a media trainer. It offers 11 tips buyers should consider when shopping around for a trainer – and it will offer you some insights into what I consider to be important qualities in a trainer.

Since media training is not an entry-level job, Heather will need to gain professional experience first.

She can get that experience in one of two places: by working as a journalist or by working with journalists as a public relations representative. Heather should be able to find an entry-level job with a community newspaper, a small radio or television station, or as a staffer in the communications shop of a company or not-for-profit organization.

If she really wants to challenge herself, she should accept a position with an organization in crisis. For example, I recently noticed that the Komen Foundation – which just endured a bruising public relations battle – was hiring a senior communications professional. Although Heather won’t qualify for the senior position, she should keep her eyes out for an entry level position with a similarly scandal-struck group. There’s no better way to learn than being thrown straight into the fire.

Media training requires not only knowledge of the media, but also the ability to teach the information in a way that’s likely to resonate with trainees. So Heather should look for every opportunity to lead workshops, develop session agendas, and coach people. Knowing the facts is one thing; knowing how to teach them is quite another.

There are a few other things Heather can do now. She can write for her college newspaper or write a blog, keeping an eye out for opportunities to analyze the communications skills of public figures. She should read books and blogs written by media trainers. And she should follow a few journalism websites as well, to help make sure she’s getting the broadest perspective possible.

Thanks for the message, Heather. I look forward to hearing great things from you in our industry!

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