Make the Most of Your 15 Minutes of Fame With These 9 Tips for Media Interviews

Let’s say your story pitch — or that of your public relations professional — worked, and you have an interview with a reporter. Congratulations. Now you must prepare to have a successful conversation and make sure your business, the work you do, and your expertise are all captured in a compelling news story. 

As a former journalist turned PR pro,  I coach clients for media interviews. Here are some of my top tips for print and broadcast interviews.

For Print Interviews

1. Be fully present and engaged. No multi-tasking.

If you are speaking with the reporter by phone, this means turning off email, text messages and instant messaging. Once I was staffing a phone interview and heard my client struggling to find his train of thought while his instant messenger was dinging. I fired off an IM reminding him to turn it off.

If you’re driving, pull off the road so you can concentrate on the questions and your story. If your quotes are a rambling mess the reporter can’t use or you sound distant or disinterested, you might not get another shot to tell your story. Consider this conversation with a reporter to be your number one job for the 15, 30 or 60 minutes it takes.

2. Stick to your areas of expertise.

Be helpful but don’t feel the need to talk about stuff you don’t know. If you can find answers and provide them later, say so. If something is outside your area, say so and perhaps offer up another subject matter expert is you know someone who would be appropriate.

3. Remember it’s a conversation.

This isn’t “Hamlet.” No monologues, please. Leave room for follow-up questions and some back and forth. Expect to be interrupted and roll with it. When reporters have what they need or if you say something that begs a follow-up question, they might stop you to ask another question. I’ve witnessed sources bristle at being interrupted. Don’t feel this way. It likely means you are doing a good job, and the reporter is being efficient with your time and theirs.

On a related note, don’t read your answers off a prepared sheet of paper. It’s OK — and smart — to have some notes, but you don’t want to sound wooden and stiff.

For TV Interviews

1. Prepare talking points.

You or your PR pro should prepare talking points on the topic you are covering in this particular TV interview. Talking points should read like headlines — short and sweet. Using this article as an example, one talking point would be: Two keys to a successful media interview: be engaged and be yourself. 

Prepare talking points even if the TV station doesn’t require them, but most do. This should go without saying, but if your PR pro writes your talking points for you, you really should read them before going on air.

2. Practice out loud and time yourself.

TV moves fast, so you want to practice giving short, succinct answers — essentially delivering your talking points in 10 to 15 seconds. 

Relax and smile. Never let them see you sweat. You got this.

For All Interviews

1. Do some research.

Bone up on the issue you’ll be speaking about, the media outlet and the reporter who will be conducting the interview. Read some of the reporter’s past stories. Watch past news shows and clips featuring the reporter you’ll speak with. Read the reporter’s online bio, Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile.

2. Allow plenty of time.

If you wedge an interview into a busy day, you’ll introduce unnecessary stress to this media interview experience. Make sure you have plenty of time to clear your head and be 100 percent present and engaged.

3. Ensure accurate attribution. 

Make sure to give the reporter and — if going on TV — the producer the correct spelling of your first and last name and your company name and provide your correct job title. You want reporters to refer to you by the right name in print and on air. You also want to make sure that the text for any onscreen graphics is correct.

Remember when you talk with reporters, you are reaching clients, prospects and more. Invest your time and energy accordingly. 

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts