See Media Stories – 1: Sarah

Sarah Thomas - see media
Sound bites and safe islands

Whilst feeling the pressure of kicking off our See Media Stories series to celebrate See Media’s 10th anniversary, I had to think hard to pick just one favourite thing from my five years with the company.

And what jumped out to me was media training.

Out of all the amazing work we get to do with our clients, this is the one that I look forward to most. It’s a great chance to get together face-to-face with clients having developed a clear strategy for exactly what we want to cover and achieve.

At See Media, we love to be seen as an extension to the marketing or comms team within an organisation. It’s the best of both worlds – we’re trusted and known by our colleagues, but we can also advise with an outside-in approach, considering their challenges without being right in the middle of them.

Satisfying and constructive

Offering this consultative advice to senior leaders who have been tussling with a problem or have had a tricky experience is both satisfying and constructive.

Often, clients have a large-scale project that will inevitably lead to some media attention, or they may have been through a challenging crisis comms incident and want to be better prepared for next time.

As possibly the most enthusiastic crisis comms specialist within See Media, I often lead clients through scenarios they might encounter and how best to deal with them, creating sound bites to ensure messages are landed as well as they can be, and using our media training partner, Stuart Pollitt’s, ‘safe island’ technique to demonstrate how to ‘swim’ back to safe topics.

This isn’t an attempt to avoid difficult conversations or questions, as we want our clients to be as authentic and transparent as they can be. It’s about taking the conversation back to what you can talk about and the message you are trying to convey.

Thinking caps on

What I really like about these sessions is that we get our clients really thinking – often future sessions are coordinated to continue the conversations we find ourselves having on a media-training day, and topics come up that hadn’t even been thought about until an external resource was bought in.

And of course, it’s nice to get out and about, see a bit of the country and engage face-to-face with some of the people we speak to by phone or email every day – or even meet new people we’ve never worked with before who bring us in to deliver training.

As we enter another 10 years of See Media, I hope to support many more of you to tell your positive stories and feel prepared to navigate any trickier areas of housing comms.

If you’d like to update your media training or review your crisis comms readiness, send us a message on hello@see-media.co.uk.

Sarah Thomas is Group Account Director at See Media