The news release has been issued to the media and now they are calling asking for an interview. Do you pick up the phone and start talking? No. Take a few minutes to read this article and learn some techniques to make sure your media interview is impactful.
Preparation is the key to a successful media interview. Think about it this way – would you step on the stage and give a presentation to thousands of people without preparing your thoughts and fine tuning your message? Hopefully not. You would spend some time reviewing your notes, checking out your appearance and making sure you remember your key points. Think about your media interview as a presentation to a large group of people. Even if you can’t see them, hundreds or even thousands (possibly millions) of people will read the article, listen to the interview or watch the clip.
Okay let’s get started with some basic ways to prepare.
1. Write down your three key messages. When you are done your interview, what are the three key points you want the reporter, and audience, to remember?
2. Formulate your interview around these key points. When asked questions that are “off message” go back to these points. Use them to transition out of sticky questions. Example – while that’s a good question, I want to stress what’s important to remember is… insert key message.
3. Determine what media outlet you are talking to and the average length of audio or video clips or story length for print. If it’s radio and the interview’s for a short news story, keep your interview short as they will likely only use a 10-30 second clip. If it’s television or video, you might get 60 seconds of you speaking in the story.
4. Tailor your message to meet the needs of the audience of the media outlet. Is this a local news outlet? National? Is the audience your peers or the general public? Each media interview should be unique, tailored to meet the needs of the specific audience, versus repeating the same information the same way in 10 different media interviews.
5. Take stock of your appearance. Solid colours are best for video interviews. No crazy patterns or logos (unless it’s your own company’s logo). For women – no clunky jewellery or exposed cleavage. And for men – button up your shirt and empty your pockets so you aren’t tempted to jingle your keys.
6. Don’t ramble. Stick to your three key points. This way when your comments are edited, what appears in the story will be on topic.
7. Thank the reporter. Too few people take the time to say thank you.
Once the story is live, review the coverage to see how well you delivered your message and identify how you can improve for future interviews.