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So You’ve Got a Media Interview Confirmed, Now What?

Kerry Sutherland//October 1, 2013//

So You’ve Got a Media Interview Confirmed, Now What?

Kerry Sutherland //October 1, 2013//

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Your internal PR efforts, or outstanding PR agency, booked you a media opportunity that will allow you to promote your products, services, event or campaign.

Maybe it’s a live, on-stage interview with Diane Sawyer, a taped NPR phone interview, or a more casual conversation at an industry trade show with one of the Pet Age editors, you’ll want to ensure you’re prepared and ready to inform and impress, to get the most out of the opportunity for your business.

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

Know the Reporter’s Goal: Ask what the focus and scope of the interview will be, however don’t ask what specific questions will be asked- that’s a journalism faux pas and it’s important to be as considerate as possible when working with the media.

Plan Ahead: Think about the most logical questions that you expect to be asked during the interview, and practice your answers, preferably in front of a mirror, standing.

Sometimes you may not realize that when you watch yourself, you need to make eye contact or smile more, looking in the mirror or even taping yourself will help.

Avoid Jargon: Keep your responses simple, in easy-to-understand language that will be quickly understood by the reporter and audience.

Not everyone knows or uses the same industry lingo that you do, so it’s important to make sure your points can be well received.

Make a Power Statement: You must have one key talking point that you most want to emphasize during the interview. Know it, practice it and find a way to insert it during your interview, perhaps via bridging language.

Google Bridging Language: Politicians are famous for avoiding an unwanted reporter question, and quickly transitioning into a topic on their own agenda. They do it with bridging language, so find some phrases that feel most natural and conversational to you, and practice.

Use Facts and Specifics: Provide exact dates, figures, statistics and names if it adds value to your story, but again try not to get overly technical because you may have limited time.

Repeat Your Key Messages: Practice two or three ways to make the same point, but by saying them differently.

The most you, naturally, repeat yourself, the higher your chances are that the reporter will pick up on your message, and most importantly use that comment in their final story.

Don’t Sound Like a Commercial: You’re not filming an advertisement. Don’t sell the reporter, just tell them your story and answer their questions as thoughtfully as you can.

Appearing too sensational or sales-driven limits your chances for coverage and potential follow up interviews with the publication.

Be Honest: If you don’t know the answer, or aren’t the best person to comment on a particular question, say so.

The reporter wants to tell the most accurate story possible, and will appreciate your honesty.

Be Positive: Negative statements tend to reflect poorly on you. Keep the interview upbeat, and focus on your personal/company’s strengths, not, for example, your competitors’ weaknesses.

Be Cooperative and Courteous: Manners matter. Thank the reporter for their time after the interview.

If you said you’d get back to them with more information or supporting materials, do it. And, always respect their deadline.