MEDIA RELATIONS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD
Instructor: Joshua Jampol
Many management students have already had (often bad) experiences with the media.
They should possess effective communications techniques before getting back in the real
world as representatives of their companies.
This practical, skills-oriented workshop is designed to better prepare them to work with,
and develop relationships with the press. It uses written and oral exercises to help gain
mastery of efficient ways to communicate, both externally and internally.
Theoretical sessions (one-third of the course) examine what drives journalists, how they
work and what their rights and responsibilities are. We look at news and corporate
communications, discuss interviewing, how to be a source, and how to prepare yourself
and your staff to speak with the press. This includes examination of communications
techniques with print and broadcast media, how to communicate across cultures and in
crisis situations. We look inside a newspaper to see how it is structured, and find out what
happens to a story, for which you have been interviewed, once it gets written and filed.
Finally, we compare the national press and the trade press, and give you tools to work
Four practical sessions comprise the bulk (two-thirds) of the course. These include two
individual exercises: in the first you present yourself to the class; in the second you will
write and present a communications document, such as a press release, to the class. In the
third exercise, which is done in pairs, you present your partner and he or she presents
you. A final simulation, dealing in crisis management, is done in groups; you play senior
management of a firm where something has gone wrong and must meet the press. These
exercises are filmed and the tapes studied for ways to improve presentation skills,
message discipline, control, body language &c. After every exercise, the class will
comment on how well your have communicated.
You will learn how to stay afloat and compete in the rough waters of today’s media
world, along with presentation skills and written English competencies.
- How to talk to the media: what to say, and what not to say.
- How to be a source, not a target.
- How to accentuate the positive when there is bad news.
A midterm exam will consist of a written paper (600 words) on the media, your personal
use of and confidence in it. These written exercises will be presented orally to the class,
which will comment.
For the final exam, students will be given a real-life case study of a crisis situation and
will be asked to comment on the company’s communication strategy and policy. This
written exam must be defended orally.
Details of class sessions
1 Introduction and general overview: Interactive lecture on communication and staying
ahead of the media: press relations, communication across cultures, rhetoric,
communication techniques and other topics are examined.
2. Introduction and general overview (con’t);
3. First exercise. Students present themselves to the class in a short (5-minute)
presentation, which is filmed and reviewed.
4. First exercise (con’t).
5. Interviewing tips and techniques. Successful preparation for the print or broadcast
6. Second exercise: students form pairs and present each other to the class. This is filmed
and the tape is studied, particularly for improvements in presentation skills from
the First Exercise (Week 3-4).
7. Midterm exam. A written essay on your personal use and trust of the media. This is
presented to the class.
8. Strategic Business Writing 1. A written communications sample. This can be a press
release, internal memo, cover letter for a CV, letter of recommendation for a
colleague, appeal to bank or VC for funding, or anything the student feels
applicable to him or her. These samples are presented to the class, which reviews
them. Learning points in this exercise include presentation skills (body language,
message control &c) and give students the chance to present material which is
their own. (Please note that this differs from the final crisis management exercise
- week 13 - in which they present material which is not their own).
9. Strategic Business Writing 2.
10. Understanding the press today. Why this generation of reporters - the one you’ll be
dealing with - is different. How the rules have changed in the last 30 years. The
privacy issue. Newspaper structure. Inside a newspaper: what happens to a story -
for which you have interviewed - once the reporter files it.
11. Challenges and opportunities with the new media.
12. Video viewing. Interviewing techniques in the one-on-one interview, in preparation
for the final exercise (Week 13). Tips and pitfalls.
13. Crisis Management. Final exercise: group work in a crisis situation. Students form
groups and are given a crisis scenario, based on real life. In each case, something
has gone wrong at your firm (someone has died from using your product or
service, for example.) You play senior management and must meet the press to
defend yourselves in a mock press conference, which is filmed, while the rest of
the class play reporters. The tape is reviewed at the end of class.
14. Final exam. Students are asked to write an essay commenting on a crisis case and
examine the communications strategy of the company involved.
Students are graded on the two exams, their participation and progress in the class
Joshua Jampol began his career as radio correspondent for National Public Radio and
Monitoradio in the U.S. As print journalist he has covered various European industries,
from media (The Hollywood Reporter) to aerospace (Space Business News). Since 1993
he has specialized in management education. From 1993-97 he wrote a weekly column
on the subject for The European, and currently contributes to The International Herald
Tribune, The Times and The Guardian. Author of The Directory of MBAs, he was
managing editor of Acta Astronautica, the journal of the International Academy of
Astronautics, for 11 years. As a broadcaster, he has since 1989 been the “voice” of
Ariane, handling live video commentary of launches of Europe’s commercial rocket from
the spaceport in French Guiana. Jampol provides media training with seminars for
students and faculty at top business schools and firms in Europe and North America. He
is currently preparing a book on opera.