Survival tips for media interviews

This article is Part Three of a series on how to handle media interviews. In Part One we covered what you need to know from a journalist before an interview, and in Part Two we gave you some tips on preparing for the interview so you can make it beneficial for you and your business.

Once all of your preparation is done and you have practiced saying your key messages and potential answers for anticipated questions, it is time for the interview.

While it’s normal to feel a little nervous, make sure you listen to all of the questions asked by the interviewer and answer clearly and succinctly. Keep repeating your key messages, and answer questions as best you can.

It’s OK to have notes in front of you (if it’s a phone interview) as long as you don’t sound like you do. To avoid the temptation of reading your notes word for word and sounding as monotonous, summarise your notes into bullet points and use them as prompts only.

If the interview is face to face, don’t fidget, swing your feet or rock in your chair – this will make you look unconfident, dishonest or disinterested.

Don’t forget to be passionate! You’re obviously passionate about your business so let it show. Journalists are human beings too and they would much rather talk to a bright and enthusiastic person than a dull one. Also, if a journalist likes you, and if you get them psyched about your business, they’re much more likely to write something (good) about you.

Whatever happens, try to keep your cool, and stay ‘on message’ at all times. The techniques for doing both of these things are so important that we’ll devote the entire next post to them.

In the meantime, here are six things that you should be in a media interview:

Confident – be candid, honest and positive (if the situation allows it)

Specific use facts, examples and easily understood statistics

Accurate – an interview is not a time for speculation or original thought

Human be open, likeable and empathetic

Quotable make sure answers succinct, clear and preferably bold, strong and passionate. Tell stories, use anecdotes and don’t lecture. Make your answers easy to be quoted or repeated by the journalist. If you give a long-winded or confusing answer to an interview question, always summarise it with a sound-bite and your key message.

Calm “When you’re right you can afford to lose your temper. When you’re wrong, you can not afford to lose it” (Ghandi)

The morning after:

Etiquette calls for you to phone or email the journalist the day after your interview. Thank them for taking the time to speak to you, and ask if they need any more information. If there was a question you couldn’t answer during the interview, answer it now (if you can). If you are nice and helpful, the journalist is more likely to respond when you contact them the next time or even consider approaching you when they are looking for comment for a story.

Have you had many media interviews? How have you gone? If you have any questions feel free to post them below and we’d be happy to help.


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