The press release has been issued to the media and they are now calling 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 of it this way: Would you go on stage and present to thousands of people without preparing your thoughts and tuning in to your message? I hope not. He would spend some time reviewing his notes, reviewing his appearance, and making sure to remember his key points. Think of 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 start with some basic ways of preparation.
1. Write down your three key messages. When you have finished your interview, what are the three key points you want the reporter and the audience to remember?
2. Frame your interview around these key points. When asked questions that are “off the hook”, return to these points. Use them to get out of the tough questions. Example: While this is a good question, I want to emphasize that what is important to remember is … insert your key message.
3. Determine which media outlet you are speaking with and the average length of the audio or video clips or the length of the story to print. If it’s on the radio and the interview is for a short story, keep the interview short as they will probably only use a 10 to 30 second clip. If it’s television or video, you may have 60 seconds to speak in the story.
4. Tailor your message to meet the needs of your media audience. Is this a local means of communication? National? Is the audience your peers or the general public? Each media interview should be unique, designed to meet the needs of the specific audience, rather than repeating the same information in the same way in 10 different media interviews.
5. Assess your appearance. Solid colors are best for video interviews. No crazy patterns or logos (unless it’s your own company logo). For women: no clunky jewelry or exposed cleavage. And for men: button up your shirt and empty your pockets so you won’t be 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. Very few people take the time to say thank you.
Once the story is live, review the coverage to see how well it delivered your message and identify how you can improve for future interviews.