Media Familiarisation and Training

David Jessel offers a radical and innovative approach to targeted media training.  A former BBC journalist, Rough Justice’s campaigning investigator and winner of three Royal Television Society awards, he has developed a unique Media Skills programme which integrates an understanding of the client’s business with an analysis of the media world, as well as providing the usual do’s-and-don’t’s of conventional media training, to provide a more relevant, and more valuable experience tailored specifically to the client’s needs.

David believes that there’s too much of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach in media training.  Lucrative as it may be to put the middle management of an entire multinational corporation through the media training sausage machine, it’s often little more than an exercise in box-ticking and ego-massage.  That’s why he works towards a bespoke programme tailored for specific client needs and involving just a few key executives.

He frontloads his course by putting his investigative credentials to work, researching the client’s business in depth to provide a specialist context for training.  There is little point in preparing the deputy head of marketing in a software company for a Jeremy Paxman- style roasting, whereas real value can be derived from an insight into what a trade journal reporter is looking for.

The course is split into three sessions.  The first centres on the explosion in media demand for stories, the essentially collaborative atmosphere of most contact with journalists, and an understanding of what makes a ‘story’.  The second session applies this understanding to some of the practical elements of exposure to the media – classic tips of the trade, but updated to take account of the new media climate.  Most journalists these days can spot someone who has been ‘media-trained’; there’s a need for a more confident and candid approach when dealing with the media, instead of relying on familiar but often out-of-date techniques in an effort to out-manipulate the interviewer.  While there are exercises and interaction throughout all sessions, it is in the final session that everything is drawn together in a series of interviews ranging from an appearance on a trade show panel to a critical interview on a specialist/business TV programme.  A lifetime’s experience of the news business helps enrich the sessions with relevant, dramatic and witty anecdotal examples.

The sessions involve Powerpoint presentations with embedded video clips, and the final interviews are filmed on minicam video for analysis. It is a one-man operation, which keeps costs low.  CDs of final interviews are provided later, with confidential assessments if requested.

David Jessel began work at the BBC in 1967, and having spent many years covering wars, US presidential elections, natural catastrophes and domestic UK politics is probably best known for his work on Rough Justice and Channel 4’s Trial and Error, which led to the quashing of numerous wrongful convictions.  In recent years he has been a principal presenter of BBC World’s rolling news channel, as well as a guest interviewer on its hard-hitting HardTalk programme.  He became the senior Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission, a Royal Appointment he took up between 2000 and 2010. Other public work includes having been an advisor to the Advertising Standards Authority, and a tribunal member for media regulators PhonePay+.

What people say

“I was very impressed with the amount of time David put in to understanding one of my client’s issues - before he ever stepped into the room. He took a range of senior colleagues on a journey to help them not only understand what the media is about, but also what their motivations are and what they actually wanted to speak to the media about. David has a very easy to understand style, uses clear English to put his point across and also gives examples of how executives could better express complicated company messaging - in the words of Ebay, “highly recommended, use this one”.
- Rob Forbes, Spreckley Partners Ltd PR

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