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Polish up your media skills
  1. Nadin Sajakow

Abstract

The BVA holds regular one-day media courses for vets who want to know how to present themselves and what they have to say to best advantage. BVA media officer Nadin Sajakow describes what the day involves

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MEDIA and interview training can help with techniques for handling radio, television and print media interviews. The BVA's course is a practical one, run by a professional journalist with experience of working in radio and television. It is suitable for those without any media training or experience, as well as for those who want to refresh their communication skills. In fact, it can help with any interview situation, since the training teaches you how to take control of and steer an interview, as well as ways of avoiding pitfalls and how to dig yourself out of a hole!

The course begins with a session in which participants learn how to distil their key message. Each press medium is explored and practised through recorded interviews, which are then analysed. Radio and TV set-ups offer participants the chance to become familiar with a range of different situations, such as being invited to comment on a local animal welfare-related incident, veterinary fees or a disease outbreak. They also learn print media skills and tips on general communication that can be used on a daily basis.

The subject matter is tailored to suit individual needs and particular areas of expertise. Each course has a maximum of six participants and is held at the BVA's headquarters in London.

Course tutor

The speaker on the course is Mark Webster, a highly experienced print and broadcast journalist who has worked for ITV, the Financial Times, the Evening Standard and as a freelance journalist, as well as in communications roles in politics and for charities.

Feedback from delegates

After each course, delegates are invited to comment on the usefulness of the experience. Here are some of their comments: ‘Excellent seminar – practical and well constructed. Allowed some practice at dealing with issues of a sensitive nature.’

‘This was an excellent course and has massively improved my confidence in dealing with the media. A good range of experience of other delegates was helpful in analysing techniques.’

‘I was looking forward to it like a trip to the dentist, necessary but inevitably uncomfortable. I have never considered this type of verbal skill to be a strength of mine. However, the tutor not only had the experience to be perceptive and probing, but was also very helpful and encouraging. To my great surprise I enjoyed myself. The day was a real confidence booster and I found it very valuable.’

Further information

Further information about the course is available from Nadin Sajakow, telephone 020 7908 6343, or e-mail: nadins@bva.co.uk. This year's courses will be held on March 22 and September 3. They cost £325 plus VAT for BVA members and £425 plus VAT for non-members.

Other BVA resources

The BVA's online newsroom for vets, www.bva.co.uk/news/Resourcesforvets.aspx, includes the following resources:

▪Ten top tips from the BVA Media Office on what to do when a journalist calls;

▪How to find and use local newspapers and radio stations to promote your practice and the veterinary profession;

▪How a short course in media training could prepare vets for defending the profession against criticism and might even present an opportunity for them to promote it;

▪Science Media Centre's leaflet for those who are new to doing news media work.

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