Secretariat of the Latvian Presidency: Media Training: An Interview: Preparation, Conducting, Examples of Best Practice and Advice

Latvian presidency logo

Client: Secretariat of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Latvia

Programme: Media Training: An Interview: preparation, conducting, examples of best practice and advice

(Delivered in Riga, Latvia, 2014)

The client

The Secretariat of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (the Secretariat) was established in February 2012 and is responsible to the Foreign Minister. Its aim is to ensure that Latvia is adequately prepared for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015 and to coordinate the work of the Presidency thereafter. http://www.am.gov.lv/en/news/press-releases/2012/may/secretariat/ Presidency official website http://www.es2015.lv/en/

The problem

In addition to the three-module Communications programme already undertaken by Dods Training, the Secretariat of the Latvian Presidency wanted to improve their media handling and interview skills. Communications professionals within the Secretariat wanted to gain experience in a range of interview scenarios as well as learn how to respond to a range of media queries. The programme was to comprise of 2-day workshops for Secretariat staff and one-to-one coaching for senior government officials.

Our actions

We worked closely with Secretariat staff during the design process, deciding quickly that the programme was to be very practical with plenty of opportunities for real-life interview practice.

We devised the workshops to escalate in terms of difficulty; catering for those with less experience in the groups whilst simultaneously honing and tweaking the skills of more advanced participants. During the course, participants had to confront a range of scenarios, participating in “radio” interviews with actual journalists in Brussels via Skype, live stand-up one-to-one interviews, and pre-record hostile questioning in a simulated studio environment.

We designed the course specifically to allow time for feedback after each interview so that participants could play back recordings and build and learn from their own experiences and the examples of their colleagues.

We worked directly with the Secretariat and Latvian School of Public Administration to confirm logistics. The personnel required in the delivery of media training meant that we provided additional Dods Training staff on the ground where necessary. Participants were offered Dictaphone and camera recordings of their own interviews to enhance their continued learning.

Conclusions

The workshops were very well received with 33 out of 36 participants rating the programme as “Excellent”. Secretariat staff said they felt much better equipped to face challenging media situations and said the training had provided excellent practice. Others stated that the training had proved beneficial outside their role in the Secretariat and would help them in their departmental roles as they could pass on what they had learnt to their ministers.