Georges Nellany

Step into the ever-evolving world of corporate affairs, where every move is scrutinised under the unforgiving gaze of the media – particularly the British media. In an era of interconnectedness and media domination, the power of effective public relations and the art of media training cannot be underestimated by any organisation. Within this intricate web of perception-shaping, it is the C-suite executives, the titans of industry, who stand as the public faces of their organisations, wielding the power to shape public opinion with every word they utter.  


Yet, as we've recently witnessed, even the most seasoned executives can stumble and fall prey to the perils of PR blunders. A prime example comes in the form of Alison Rose, the former Chief Executive Officer of NatWest, whose recent misstep serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing necessity for comprehensive media training and a steadfast company-wide PR mindset.  


We are living in a time of instantaneous information, where a single misjudged statement can set social media ablaze and ignite a storm of public backlash and the importance of media training becomes paramount. With the aid of PR teams, executives can navigate the treacherous waters of media engagement, ensuring that their words and actions align with the carefully crafted image of their organisations. So, fasten your seatbelts as we unravel the indelible impact media training has on the reputations of those who hold the reins! 


The Role of Media Training 

Media training should be seen as an essential tool for executives to effectively convey their company's messages, handle media inquiries, and navigate potential crises. It equips them with the skills to deliver concise and consistent messages, regardless of the situation. Maintaining composure under pressure, staying on message, and building rapport with journalists are also key aspects taught in media training. 


When it comes to CEOs, media training helps ensures that they remain on message and avoid making inadvertent mistakes when under pressure during times of crisis. Consistent communication is crucial in a crisis to maintain public trust and safeguard a company's reputation. Media training plays a vital role in helping CEOs understand the intricacies of media interviews, such as addressing difficult questions and steering the conversation back to key messages. 


The backbone of any organisation's communication strategy is its PR teams. They work closely with C-suite executives to shape the company's image, manage media relations, and develop effective crisis communication plans. PR teams offer guidance and support to executives, helping them navigate the media landscape and project a positive public image. 


PR teams also play a critical role in preventing PR disasters through media training, refining key messages, and advising executives on their public appearances. They ensure that executives are well-prepared for media engagements and are aware of potential pitfalls or sensitive topics. 


What can businesses learn from Alison Rose's PR Mistake? 

NatWest Group Plc former CEO, Alison Rose, recently found herself in a precarious situation when she broached the subject of Nigel Farage's bank accounts during an interview with a BBC reporter. This misstep caused a major public relations nightmare for both Rose and the bank, as her comments were widely seen as inappropriate and raised concerns about the bank's impartiality. 


It is clear in this case that Rose's lack of media training and failure to consult her PR team led to this unfortunate incident. Had she received proper media training, Rose would have been better prepared to handle the interview and avoid discussing sensitive topics. Furthermore, her PR team could have offered guidance on how to navigate the interview while safeguarding the bank's reputation. 


Alison Rose's PR blunder serves as a stark reminder of the importance of ongoing training for C-suite executives. It is vital for executives to constantly stay updated on media trends, continuously refine their communication skills, and familiarise themselves with potential crisis scenarios. The media landscape and public opinions can change rapidly, necessitating that executives adapt and ensure their messages remain relevant. 


Executives must also bear in mind that they are always representing their companies, even outside of official business engagements. Each public appearance, whether personal or professional, requires them to wear their PR hat. The boundaries between personal and professional lives often blur in the public eye, and any misstep can have substantial repercussions on their reputation. 


Media training and the unwavering support of PR teams play a pivotal role in the successful management of a company's public image and the deft navigation of potential crises by C-suite executives. The recent blunder committed by Alison Rose, the CEO of NatWest Group Plc, serves as a glaring reminder of the indispensability of ongoing refresher training and the imperative for executives to adopt a PR-oriented mindset in every interaction. With a judicious investment in media training and the astute utilisation of PR teams' expertise, executives can fortify their communication prowess, safeguard their organisations' reputations, and project an unwaveringly positive image to key stakeholders and the discerning public.