Updated: Jul 7, 2020
As the saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If a media interview is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly and the key to success in any media interview is preparation.
Contrary to the adage, in these competitive times - not all publicity is good publicity.
So to get the best out of your media interview read on our top ten tips on how to prepare for it.
1. Do your research
Make sure you (or your PR consultant) find out as much as you can about the journalist’s news outlet or blog, previous work, and in particular, any biases that may be evident in his/her background. It’s perfectly okay to decline an interview if you are concerned that the reporter won’t give you a fair go.
2. Know your facts
Whatever the subject of your interview, a key part of your focus should be the audience. Listeners, readers, and viewers expect more than soulless corporate messaging. They want to hear objective data or statistics to back up your messages and make them relevant to them. So, study your numbers so you can quote them confidently
3. Be professional
Be on time, be polite and give the journalist your full attention. This means leaving your mobile phone and all your other concerns out of the interview space. Give the appearance of being comfortable and confident, even if you’re not. There are lots of ways to prevent nerves from showing, such as breathing exercises, practice, and lots of preparation. Make eye contact with your interviewer, keep still, and smile where appropriate (even if you don’t feel like it). Oh and of course, never lose your cool!
4. Practice makes perfect
Create a clear picture of how you want the interview to go. It’s a good idea to develop, memorise, and practice three key messages to push during the interview. These messages should be positive and impactful, the kind that will reach the audience and resonate. Pay attention to your posture, your facial expressions, and the way you’re carrying yourself in general. Use your hands in a productive, natural manner. If standing, never put your hands in your pockets, or lock them behind or in front of you as these can direct the viewers eye to those areas and lose focus.
5. Stay in control
If you’ve prepared and practiced you should be able to keep in control of the interview. Occasionally, you can face a question that can catch you off-guard. There are some useful techniques to get yourself back on message so don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat or elaborate on a question. Take note of how politicians manage difficult questions. Sometimes a reporter is perfectly happy with a respectful and relevant response or a slight change of direction. If asked a question off topic, you should always say that’s not my area of expertise, but what I am an expert in is (your field) and what I am excited to be here to talk to you today about is (your topic) to bring the interview back on track. Don’t get tempted to answer questions you are qualified for and the interviewer will take you further down a path that doesn’t serve you.
6. Keep it short and sweet
Keep your answers brief and on message and pause so the interview can flow. Keep in mind a TV or radio interview, unless live, will only use sound bites. To make sure as much helpful data and dialogue as possible gets through to anyone watching, reading, or listening to your interview, it’s vital to keep your answers brief. Try squeezing your answers into no more than twelve seconds per response. Try to be as precise as possible. Don’t waste a second; avoid saying anything a word that doesn’t need to be told to address the immediate question.
7. Keep it simple
Avoid using jargon and acronyms - you should speak clearly, using words that are commonly understood. The exception to this rule pertains to trade / business-to-business interviews, where the audience may be technically sophisticated and already familiar with your subject matter.
8. Silence is golden
Professional journalists know that some of the best quotes come when interviewees feel the need to “fill the dead space.” While this is a natural inclination during ordinary conversation, it can be very dangerous during an interview. Once you’ve stated your response, simply stop. Never continue talking merely because the reporter hasn’t asked you a follow-up question. If necessary, say to the reporter, “I hope I’ve answered your question -what’s next?”
9. Share, share, share
Have a plan in place to share an interview right after it has run in the media. That means your business’ social media pages should like, retweet, and share the specified interview from the media’s social media as soon and as much as possible. This will help you maximise views, listens, clicks, impressions, and word-of-mouth promotion.
10. Get media training
Even if you’re an accomplished public speaker, there are some communication techniques that are truly unique to the media interview process. Media trainers do more than give you the do’s and don’ts; they have hints, tips, and tricks to help you manage your interview and ensure you get the best possible outcome.
If you’d like help with how to prepare for media interviews and how to deliver your key messages effectively contact our team via firstname.lastname@example.org