I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the media over the past decade, and to say things have changed dramatically through the years would be an understatement. An economic crisis, an increasingly globalised society and a radical proliferation of media channels – particularly social and satellite TV – has created a paradigm shift in media consumption and creation. Perhaps as a result of all these fundamental changes, organisations around the globe have realised that media communication is increasingly becoming an integral part of their business strategy to engage with stakeholders. Whether it’s to proactively inform of new developments or reactively respond to crises or other negative news, the way media chooses to interpret and reflect something matters. A lot. Today, there is a huge opportunity for media relations specialists, and other experts in the field – but the job has become more complex – and fun.
Many of these issues triggered an essential question: how do we ensure our staff are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to not only adapt to this new world, but master it. The answer was found in the eloquently named “Martini Club”: a fast-track training programme to turn excellent junior media relations practitioners into superstars. (BTW – if you wonder where the name Martini Club came from, it was borrowed from Mr Chandler Bing, one of the funniest people ever: ‘There is no I in team but two in Martini – let’s go drink one.’)
I firmly believe that one of the best ways of developing skills that can be applied real-time (i.e not fancy stuff that looks good on paper but never actually gets used) is to talk with people – not at them. Our training programme was based on creative workshops to encourage freethinking, creativity and teamwork to solve current issues and come up with innovative ideas around media relation tactics and strategies. What followed over the next few weeks was inspiring to see. Outstanding results, opportunities secured, brilliant questions asked, problems solved in creative ways and presentations given in the most confident manner. Most important of all – everyone had fun. This is a job you need to enjoy doing – otherwise rethink your career.
The Class of 2012 has now graduated in style and soon there will be a new breed of newshounds unleashed. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll find the answer to THAT question: ‘How do I get on the front cover of The Economist?’
Until we have a better answer, get elected.