There has been a disturbance in The Force... Picture this: I was introduced to a well known press feature writer. As my name was spoken ("I'd like you to meet Michael Brown...") she shook my hand with normal warmth. But when the next words were uttered (..."he's a media trainer.") she snatched her hand away, turned her back and walked off, presumably to talk to people not on the dark side.

Yes, it's funny and I'm dining out on it.

Her belief system was only too obvious: that media trainers teach incompetent or corrupt people how to lie and deceive journalists and pull the wool over the eyes of the public. The funniest part is that it's usually only journalists who harbour that belief - most of their interviewees don't think any such thing. All right, I'll concede that there are rogue media trainers in the world who do teach how to lie, and a few incompetent or corrupt people who (amazingly) think such training will help them in the long run. But that's not the point.

Honest competent people often need training in how to make the truth heard

Most people need help to overcome the nerves of dealing with reporters because if you're nervous or self-conscious, you can come across as reluctant to talk - which can then give the impression that you have something to hide. In other words dealing with the media can, of its own accord, give a completely false picture of you and your message. That's the real dark side.

The light side is that a good media trainer will show you how to prepare key messages simply, concisely and deliver them with relaxed, forward-footed confidence - a win/win/win situation for you, the reporter and the public. Even when your message is an admission of error or an apology... but I'll get into that another time.

I can only hope that the press feature writer who turned her back will come to understand these words from Anais Nin. "We don't see the world as it is. We see it as we are."

Michael