Media training? It could be just Watt your brand needs

Article by:Lee Wakefield


Farewell, James Watt. Last week, the boss of Scottish beer giant Brewdog announced his intention to step down from his role as CEO of the company. It’s fair to say it’s been a turbulent tenure; as Brewdog rocketed in notoriety, so did Watt’s controversial marketing and misguided comments, which could send a chill up the spine of any PR watching from the sidelines.

As you know, we’re all about challenger PR here and aren’t adverse to an eye-catching statement by a CEO. But Watt’s tactics sometimes felt less disruptive, and more downright baffling at points. His loose-lipped LinkedIn posting would often get him in hot water, teaching those reading that, yes, sometimes CEOs say it best when they say nothing at all.

From allegations of inappropriate behaviour to misogynistic product launches and, most recently, real living wage cuts, Brewdog lurched from one PR crisis to another over the years, and Watt wasn’t usually apologetic.

Perhaps our media training service could have come in handy. Here’s what it involves:

Create your ‘Media Heroes’

When someone’s the face of your brand, which your spokespeople will be, they must be confident and comfortable when speaking to the media, even when under pressure. A positive connection with a journalist can establish a lasting rapport, and ensure they become a core part of your network of influencers. Without this trusting relationship, there is a risk of your company messaging being mistold.

To the wider public, your ‘Media Heroes’ are received warmly, meaning they are positively associated with your brand. Nobody wants an ill-judged comment causing reputational damage for years to come, and that’s why we stage mock interviews to put spokespeople through their paces.

Let the brand dominate column inches, not you

A considered opinion is an effective way of hitting the headlines. But whatever stance you take must be well thought out and offered in a way that controls the narrative; you don’t want an off-the-cuff remark to snowball. As a result, your missteps are highlighted more than your products, which often felt like the case with James Watt by the end of his stewardship.

Instead, always root your disruptive opinions within your brand; how does it offer a solution to the current situation you’re commenting on? Packaged sensibly, your soundbites can communicate a focus on problem solving to your prospective customers.

Tap into your passions

At the start of media training, we take time to get to know you, rather than just the brand or your role in it. That means we can drill down into what your spokespeople are passionate about. An opinion which comes naturally is the most effective and allows your spokespeople to feel confident and assured in their responses.

These sessions are equally beneficial in creating content, too. We maximise our conversations for thought leadership articles and blog inspiration, meaning our PR approach is multifaceted at all times.

Watt the future holds

Of course, James Watt isn’t disappearing completely. In a statement, he explained that he’ll take a newly-created “captain and co-founder” position in the near future, and opt for the classic “travelling and adventures” and “spending more time with family and loved ones” with his newfound freedom.

It’s no coincidence that Watt has taken a back seat as the company once again seeks flotation on the stock market, something that has so far been scuppered due to his previous behaviour. It may be his most sensible decision yet.


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