We prepared the senior leadership team at SSAFA, the armed forces charity, for media interviews to promote their work

SSAFA is the UK’s oldest armed forces charity, founded in 1885, and provides lifelong care to serving members of the armed forces, the veteran community and their families.

Historically, the charity had adopted a low profile, but we were engaged to deliver a pro-active communications strategy, including commentary and thought leadership opportunities for the senior leadership team. We held an initial messaging session with the team to establish the charity’s point of view on topical issues of interest, giving them the confidence to speak out publicly.

We then held a series of media training sessions for the senior leadership team, preparing them for broadcast and print interviews. The sessions were led by Director of Reputation Tim Jotischky, a former national newspaper editor, who has trained chief executives, Premier League footballers, trade associations and third sector organizations, passing on the benefit of his experience from a 25-year media career.

The half-day sessions focused on:

Understanding how to interact with journalists

Learning how to deliver messages succinctly and effectively

Dealing with difficult interview questions without being tripped up

SSAFA’s senior leadership team were taught to connect with their audiences by telling the stories of the veterans whose lives they have changed. The interviews were filmed, with feedback and analysis of pace, delivery and the effectiveness of key messages.

The media training sessions were followed by crisis training sessions in which the team were presented with a realistic scenario, unfolding in real time, and required to handle journalist inquiries, draw up Press statements and broadcast interviews.

A reticent senior leadership team were emboldened by the training and ready to handle media interviews to communicate the charity’s vital work to new audiences. They learnt to include strong calls to action in their interviews: appealing for volunteers to help grow the charity’s network; donations to fund essential services; and tangible policy reforms to help the veteran community.

Two research reports, written by us, highlighted the plight of younger veterans, and generated significant media coverage including interviews with the BBC, Sky News and other broadcasters.

“I used PHA’s media training for my CEO and senior management team and they tailored the training to our organisational needs, but more impressively they tailored it to each of my spokespeople. They took into account their levels of experience, personalities and the type of topics they might be quizzed on. The day was very interactive, with honest and constructive feedback from professionals with tangible experience. I came out with a group of improved spokespeople full of confidence and excited for their next media interview."
Sarah Brody
Former Head of PR, SSAFA
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