Media interviews are an important way to communicate both your expertise and your organization’s message. But while company leaders have extensive knowledge about their firms and industry-related topics, they may not always be skilled at answering journalists’ questions.
A media interview can intimidate even the most experienced executives but, when well done, an interview greatly enhances the value of a news story and showcases your company in a positive light. Whether it’s a blogger or a reporter from print, online, radio, a podcast or TV calling, you’ve got a great opportunity to raise your company’s profile.
When it comes to acing an interview, research and thorough preparation are key:
Before: Prepare and Take Control
- Get familiar with the reporter and their publication. Check out previous interviews, scan their website and get a sense of their audience. Know what points you want to make with the readers/viewers.
- When setting up the interview, ask about the subjects to be covered. Are you the sole focus of the article (a profile) or will you be one of several others quoted? Anticipate questions and draft answers. If it’s a phone interview, note your key points on index cards for reference. But don’t memorize them.
- Practice your responses to anticipated questions with a friend or colleague.
- Write a bio and send it to the reporter. Don’t leave research about you or your company to the journalist. Position yourself and tell your own story.
During: Make Your Interview a Conversation
- Be energetic as you respond.
- Answer in succinct simple language; limit use of industry buzzwords.
- Introduce your key points early and repeat them as the interview progresses.
- Be polite but don’t hesitate to raise points that you consider important.
- Bring the reporter back to a previous question if you feel you have more to say.
- Never lie or say, “no comment”; don’t agree to speak “off the record.”
After: Connect with the Reporter
- Follow up to see if any additional information or clarification is needed before the piece is published.
- Offer leads on where additional information can be found. Helpful subjects get future interviews.
- Send an email thank you but NEVER send a gift of any kind.
Sometimes, There’s Just No Time to Prep
Some interview requests arise quickly and with little notice. Usually in these cases, a reporter on deadline is looking for a quick comment on an industry trend that’s in the news or an event impacting your field. Here are some tips if you get one of these on-the-spot invitations:
- Thanks to the Internet, you (or a team member) can do basic prep work quickly. If you don’t know the reporters, check their previous articles.
- Ask reporters what question/s you’ll be expected to answer; draft some key points for your response.
- If you’re not confident that you can handle the interview, decline the invitation politely, citing lack of time. Offer to be available in the future. It’s better to miss out than to mess up.
Caryl Communications has decades of experience helping clients prepare for – and get comfortable with – media interviews. From fine-tuning messaging, to knowing what to say (and what not to say), to body language and more, we can help! Reach out to us at (201) 796-7788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.