Danger Zone: Communications Training Led by a Generalist

Generals outrank privates. By a lot. At least in the army. Not in the communications training world, however. Allow me to explain.

Generalists are capable of many things. In the world of communications, they play a role in such areas as writing speeches and news releases, pitching reporters, and organizing news conferences. However, communications training consulting is not within their skill set.

In that arena, private is more important than general. Many dedicated training consultants vow to keep clients private. For example, in my 19 years in business, I’ve never released a client list. Why? We are often dealing with confidential issues that have yet to be made public, so privacy is a must (granted, not all consultants honor this principle, so if it’s important to you, be sure to ask your prospective consultant before you sign anything).


That’s why it’s a bad idea to hire a PR generalist as your media training consultant. Consider these parallels and decide which one you would choose:

  • When building a new house: Experienced contractor or part-time handyman?
  • If a loved one ever needs open heart surgery: A cardiothoracic surgeon or your folksy family doctor?
  • When flying on your next business trip: A seasoned 747 captain or a single-engine pilot?
  • For your anniversary dinner: A noted restaurant chef or a greasy spoon short order cook?
  • When taking down that tree about to fall on your house: An arborist or the guy with a chain saw who drives around in a pickup truck trolling for work.
  • Protecting the Pentagon: Elite soldiers or rent-a-cops?

I don’t mean to malign weekend pilots or short order cooks (hey, I love the occasional greasy omelet as much as the next person). Those occupations are fine for some jobs. However, there are times when you need a specialist since bad work can do real damage — to your health, your home, or your safety.

When you try to cut corners (and budget) by going with a communications generalist for your media training programs, the damage occurs to your business’ reputation and your spokespeople’s careers. Are you really that much of a risk taker?

To determine how to separate the wheat from the chaff, consult “A Buyer’s Guide to Communications Training Consultants.” And don’t miss the list of questions in the appendix designed to help you select the individual who best suits your needs.



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