Our AVA media training day last Friday was an opportunity for current and future presidents to learn how to take full advantage of the opportunity to promote the profession when the media comes calling. They also got some experience handling the tricky questions journalists often ask.

We organise these training days once or twice a year, and engage experts Templeman Consulting to do the actual training.

As the training includes some practice interviews with a former ABC journalist, there are often some interesting and funny moments when trainees fall foul of journalistic interviewing tricks. Last Friday, one poor unsuspecting vet managed to get drawn into suggesting that all dogs should wear muzzles when out in public! But our trainers know exactly what they’re doing in preparing our trainees for the worst, and participants usually have a fun (and quite challenging) day.

Each trainee comes to the day with their chosen topic, learns how to put together key messages, and gets two opportunities to try out their technique in practice interviews. The topics we covered on Friday included:

  • dog bites
  • responsible antibiotic use in pets
  • breed-specific legislation
  • deregulation of veterinary services on farms
  • higher education reforms
  • vet fees
  • puppy farms, and
  • wastage in the thoroughbred racing industry.

We cover a lot of ground in one day!

It often surprises us who in the group turns out to be a media natural, and we’ve uncovered some great talent over the years. I’ve seen people who seem a bit vague in person emerge as warm, sympathetic and crystal clear in their media interviews. There have been some who I thought might have trouble grasping the journalist’s perspective, but who find an amazing depth of understanding that they manage to convey with great subtlety in their practice interviews. I’ve seen those who are normally excellent communicators really struggle when questioned, and average-looking vets emerge with a strong, attractive presence on camera.

These training opportunities are a great benefit that AVA provides to support our group presidents. Ian Fulton is President Elect of Equine Veterinarians Australia, and this was his verdict on his media training day last November.

“The media training day was fantastic. Best education an old equine vet could get… Ron and Sue were tremendous teachers and AVA has a great resource in these two people. I appreciate the opportunity to have been included in this program.”

Marcia Balzer
National Public Affairs Manager

Source: The Australian Veterinary Association