How to Nail a Media Interview


Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, new to the PR game or a seasoned media pro, media interviews can be nerve-wracking! Our clients often feel the pressure to deliver the perfect sound bite, and as their publicists, it’s our job to ensure they head into every interview feeling prepared and confident. To do so, we offer comprehensive media training services, tailored to fit each interviewee’s brand, experience, as well as the specific journalist and media outlet. Read on for a few basic tips and tricks to nail your next media interview.

  1. Interview Prep

Before going into any interview, it’s important to establish an “elevator pitch” that speaks to what your company is about and what’s important and/or unique about it. We work with our clients to establish their key differentiators and messaging in order to draft this elevator pitch for them.

In doing so, keep in mind that good messages are simple messages:

  • Clear, concise language is key
  • Have examples that people can relate to, or care about in your back pocket
  • Have supporting statements ready
  • Remember, not everyone is an expert like you are, so elaborate when needed
  • Look for ways to insert your messages into the conversation

We also often get the question, “What should I wear?” Overall, your appearance is a representation of your brand, so dress accordingly! In general, especially for on-camera interviews, avoid tight prints, hats, and sunglasses around your neck or on your head.

Most importantly, prepare to be calm, cool and collected. It’s easier said than done – we know – but practice out loud, try deep breathing or visualize what a “successful” interview might look like. And remember, journalists are people, too – don’t let them make you nervous!

  1. Interview Tactics

Now it’s time to nail that interview. Throughout the conversation, keep in mind that the reporter is looking for a sound bite or quote to use in their story. Ideally, this should tie back to the key message(s) you identified in the preparation phase. Look for opportunities to relay that information and deliver your most important point(s) – it’s a win-win for you and the journalist.

Beyond that, consider these general media interview dos and don’ts:

Do

Body Language

  • Maintain eye contact with the reporter if in person
  • Smile
  • Use open posture (no arms crossed)

Communication

  • Listen to the complete question and use part of it to respond (i.e. How long have you been in business? We’ve been in business for…)
  • Be prepared to answer difficult questions, even if the story was presented as being positive.
  • Be brief. Stop talking as soon as you’ve answered the question.
  • Be open, honest, friendly and authentic.
  • Pace yourself. Take your time and remember to breathe!
  • If you mess up a response to a question, it’s ok to ask for a redo as long as you aren’t being filmed live.
  • Correct misstatements or misinformation.
  • Request clarification if you’re unsure what the question is or need it restated.
  • Journalists are looking to you for information, so be resourceful and make it compelling with personal experience, visitor experiences, etc.
  • If asked something irrelevant, let the reporter know you politely decline to answer.

Don’t

  • Make exaggerated facial expressions – pay attention to your body movements and posture as well.
  • Don’t recite memorized statements or responses.
  • Don’t be accusatory or derogatory toward the reporter, company or individuals.
  • Don’t assume anything is off the record.
  • Don’t mention your competitors directly.
  • Don’t answer questions with simply a “yes” or ”no”; every question is an opportunity to share your message.

Lastly, pay attention to how you close the interview, too! When the reporter asks, “Do you have anything else to add?” Your answer should always be “YES!” Use this as your opportunity to reiterate a key message once more.

With this information in mind, we hope you head into your next media interview confident and ready to let your brand shine.

 

 

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