Case Study: Preparing Librarians for Media Interview Success

Winner of a Keystone Award from the Central PA Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America

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“Working with Jason Kirsch and PRworks for media training has been fantastic! The professionalism, well-thought-out instruction and activities, and timeliness were just stellar. Our participants wrote glowing evaluations and are putting their new knowledge and skills to immediate use in ways that are improving connections between their libraries and communities through communications and news media. The end result of the training was successful beyond our expectations and we plan to offer it to more library leaders in the future!”

Christi Buker, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Library Association

Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with inventing the first working telephone, once said “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

Benjamin Franklin, a famous inventor in his own right, put it more bluntly: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Though Franklin and Bell lived well before the 24-hour news cycle, their wise words couldn’t be more relevant to what is needed before stepping in front of a camera or microphone for a media interview.

Preparation is Essential

Many people find the experience of working with reporters or appearing on camera scary and uncomfortable. It often makes individuals anxious and error-prone.

But whether your organization seeks media attention or media attention is thrust upon it, media relations preparation is essential. Preparation has the power to transform nervous energy into focused and goal-oriented messaging that is delivered with confidence.

“PRworks media training and coaching is designed to prepare executives and spokespeople to be ready, comfortable, confident and effective when engaging with news media,” says Jason Kirsch, APR, partner and senior counselor at PRworks.

The firm’s experienced public relations counselors help coaching participants:

  • Understand how news media operates
  • Prepare for news media interview
  • Learn how to develop key messages
  • Practice speaking in “sound bites,” and
  • Build and hone their interviewing skills

Librarians Step Up Storytelling

When you think of your local library, you likely only think of books. But libraries offer so much more. From digital services and job search tools to community events and educational programming, libraries have newsworthy stories to tell – and librarians are responsible for telling them.

Libraries also occasionally, and unexpectedly, find themselves in the media spotlight concerning a topic that’s making local or even national news. For example, libraries across the county were called upon by reporters for reaction after the publisher of Dr. Seuss books announced it will stop publishing six titles because they contain racist and insensitive imagery.

The Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) – which represents over 1,200 members affiliated with public, academic, special and school libraries throughout the Commonwealth – engaged PRworks’ to develop and lead a series of professional development sessions to prepare Pennsylvania librarians to successfully participate in media interviews.

The sessions, held in a mix of virtual and in-person formats to prioritize safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, provided the association’s library director members with a foundation in media interview techniques and practical experience “on camera.”

“Video interviews tend to be the most stressful,” Kirsch says. “Once participants become comfortable on camera, they will generally be well prepared for online, print and audio interviews as well.”

PRworks developed and distributed a pre-session survey to help inform and tailor the program based on participant responses.

During the sessions, each participant took part in simulated on-camera practice interviews based on prompts that were customized to their subject matter expertise and real-life media interactions they may experience. 

“The mix of media fundamentals and on-camera experience – coupled with real-time constructive, practical feedback – helps coaching participants build media interviewing skills and confidence,” Kirsch adds.

Outcomes: More Knowledge, Better Prepared

Upon completion of each coaching session, PRworks distributed a post-session survey to measure success and help PaLA plan for future trainings.

Based on the evaluation surveys, participants’ knowledge of news media jumped 64 percent. Participants’ sense of preparedness to engage in news media interviews jumped 88 percent.

A sampling of participant comments:

  • “The media training led by PRworks was among the best I ever attended. It not only provided theoretical content, but also practical tips. Both were incredibly valuable.”

  • “I admit to having anxiety about media training, but the PRworks instructor was so personable. I will be applying the takeaways to far more than media interactions.”

  • “I really enjoyed the interactive aspects of the session. I learned so much. Excellent training!”

PRworks provides media training and coaching in small group settings or one-on-one, virtually or in-person.

Interested in bringing a media training and coaching program to your organization or arranging a program for an individual company executive? Email us to start a conversation or request a proposal.

Public Service Message

Libraries are vital to communities in so many ways. Get to know yours and, if you don’t already have one, sign-up for a library card!

Find a library in Pennsylvania near you.

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