How much does media training cost?
Well, the answer would have been staring you in the face if like me you read the ‘i’ newspaper this morning.
A story, quoting a response to a Freedom Of Information Request, says that Scottish Government Finance Minister Derek Mackay underwent a course of public speaking training last year at a cost of £972.12.
It wasn’t Comsteria who delivered that work but we have run similar courses either for groups or as a 1-1 for similar people in similar organisations and that price seems around the right ballpark.
But training, particularly media training, ‘presentation skills training’ or ‘communications training’ is a very broad area and we can’t tell simply by looking at the provider and the price whether it was value for money or not.
It’s quite right that how organisations spend taxpayer’s money comes under scrutiny and there’s often a suggestion when politicians go through this kind of training that they are somehow seeking to learn how to avoid giving direct answers to straightforward questions, and that somehow this kind of training is bad for democracy.
I don’t believe that to be the case. Presentation skills training and media relations training are transferrable skills that would benefit almost anyone. I’ve seen clients grow in confidence and self-esteem as a result of our training. It can have a tremendous effect on businesses and it can help our public servants such as national level politicians, local councillors or senior police officers etc explain complex issues in a down to earth and accessible way. I believe that’s actually good for democracy.
Sometimes, when Comsteria works with politicians, we’ll work with the political party, rather than the government. That way the money used to pay for the training comes from the party, rather than the taxpayer, and would allow party political matters to be discussed. All the reputable training providers that I know are very clear on that distinction and it’s something Government ministers and their civil service staff are very clear on, in my experience.
From experience, the fact that an individual chooses to undergo training demonstrates a certain commitment to the job they’re doing and that should be applauded. Perhaps they recognise a skill they want to improve, or an area where the currently aren’t happy with their performance. An individual with a desire to improve their public speaking skills tells me that they have a certain consideration for their audience that’s going to have to listen to them. Again, that surely is a good thing in a Government Minister who is tasked with delivering budget statements.
I’d like our media to stop the undercurrent of sniping about politicians trying to improve their performance when they’re speaking in public. But I’m glad we live in a country where, should we choose, we can find out exactly what our public sector organisations are paying for and how much.
At Comsteria, we work across the public and private sectors and have been in business successfully for the last 8 years because we deliver value for money. We know that because clients refer us to their friends and colleagues. 90% of our business is repeat business. Almost every client we have has hired us more than once, either for follow up training, related workshops or perhaps a media training client will come back and we’ll produce some corporate video for them.
Organisations’ training needs are changing and we’re always looking at new ways to deliver the value for money we’re known for. Taking a full day out the business, hiring meeting rooms and catering and having an external trainer and many staff have to travel isn’t sustainable or efficient for many organisations. That’s why all our training is available as video on demand and we also offer webinar/Skype sessions etc which can significantly drive down the cost of 1-1 or one to many full day training. There’s also an environmental benefit which is something we’re very aware of.
Equally, there’s a lot to be said for taking a day out of the business and spending time with an experienced professional from outside. We’re forever being told as a nation we work too hard and need to work smarter. Mental health awareness, quite rightly, is at an all-time high.
1-1 media training or presentation skills training allows an individual to be vulnerable. They can take the trainer into their confidence, try new things and explore the consequences of particular statements or a course of action.
As a former journalist, I’m passionate about transparency and getting to the truth. You’ll never find me working as an ‘advisor’ for a politician. Rather than delivering media training to try and help them evade the truth, I deliver the opposite. I show them why it’s so important that they should be full and truthful in their answers, how they should respect the media and why above all, the most important person to consider, is the taxpayer, voter or constituent watching or listening at home trying to make sense of what they’re saying.