The trick to a successful media interview is preparedness – researching the reporter, knowing your key messages, being concise, and emphasizing important information. But what happens when an interview is scheduled and there isn’t time for a full media training workshop?
For most clients, last-minute thought leadership interview opportunities pop up that require a spokesperson outside the roster of media-trained representatives. No need to panic. Below are five steps for a quick, 15-minute media training:
1. Social media research.
If you don’t have time to identify and read the reporter’s most recent articles, check out their social media accounts.
Twitter specifically can be a quick workaround.
Scrolling through the reporter’s feed will give you insight into their most recent work, trends, issues on their mind, and potential themes that might come up in the interview.
Also, loop in your PR agency or communications team, who can help expedite this step since most PR folks keep a pulse on local and industry reporters.
2. Be honest.
Our biggest tip for a first-time interviewee is to be honest. You don’t have to, and aren’t expected to, remember everything off the top of your head – especially when it comes to dates, facts, and figures.
If you don’t know an answer, you can say so.
If you aren’t the most appropriate person to answer a question, that’s fine, too. Remember, it’s easier to follow up with the reporter with the correct data or connect them with another source than try to correct a fact after it has already been published.
Also, if you can’t answer a question, say why (such as company policy, legality, etc.).
3. Don’t fall for the pregnant pause.
If there’s one mistake that consistently gets made in an interview, it’s falling for the pregnant pause. After a reporter asks you a question, and you finish your response, stop talking. Silence from the reporter can mean they are taking notes or preparing for their next question.
If you are satisfied with your answer, don’t ramble just to fill the void – it will only muddy your message. Be clear and confident.
4. Don’t repeat the negative.
When a reporter asks you a question, don’t repeat their negative word, phrase, or statement in your response.
Remember, anything you say can be printed!
The story will quote you, not the question they asked.
5. Reiterate, reiterate, reiterate!
Repetition is key in a media interview. Studies have consistently shown that a message needs to be repeated multiple times for it to sink in.
Don’t be afraid to hit on your key messages several times throughout the interview.
An easy way to repeat your key messaging is to conclude the conversation with it.
For example, saying something like, “if there is one main point to take away from this interview, it should be….” or if the reporter asks if you have anything else to add, that is the perfect opportunity.
Media interviews can be stressful, especially if scheduled at the last minute, and you feel like you don’t have adequate time to prepare. Even if you’re in a pinch, the above tips and tricks can help take out some of the guesswork so even the most beginner spokesperson can excel in their interview.
Strengthening your media relations strategy can be a challenge. Contact us to develop a plan that’s right for you.
For additional media training Insight, don’t miss my previous article, “Preparing for a Virtual Broadcast Interview,” or check out, “Tips for Spokespeople: So You Won’t Frustrate Reporters!”