The news release has been issued to the media and now they are calling asking for an interview. Can you pick up the phone and start talking? No. Take a few minutes to read this guide and learn some techniques to make sure your media interview is impactful.
Think about it this way – would you step on the stage and give a demonstration to thousands of people without preparing your thoughts and fine tuning your message? Hopefully not. Think about your media interview for a demonstration to a large group of people. Even if you can’t see them, hundreds or even thousands (possibly millions) of people will read the guide, listen to the meeting or see the clip.
Okay let’s begin with some basic ways to prepare.
1. Write down your three important messages. When you’re done your interview, what are the three key things you want the reporter, and viewers, 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 from sticky questions. Case in point – while that’s a good question, I want to stress what’s important to keep in mind is… insert key message.
3. Determine what media outlet you are speaking to and the average amount of sound or video clips or story length for printing. If it’s video or television, 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 fit 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 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. Stick to your three important points. This way once your comments are edited, what appears in the story will be on topic.
7. Too few people take the time to say thank you.
When the story is live, review the policy to see how well you delivered your message and identify ways to improve for future interviews.