Tips to Prepare for a Successful Media Interview

As public relations professionals, one of our most important jobs is to ensure our clients are prepared to speak with the media. That’s why it’s important for organizations to invest in media training for their spokespeople, so they feel confident and prepared to deliver the messages they want the reporter to convey.

Media training will allow the spokesperson to be better prepared to respond to challenging questions, avoid being misunderstood, and most importantly, learn how to develop quotable messages that the reporter can easily turn into pull quotes, or sound bites. The biggest benefit of learning how to effectively communicate with the media, is becoming a credible source for the reporter and establishing a good relationship where you are called on for future articles.

Understand the Reporting Landscape:

It is important to understand that most reporters want to tell a fair story, not promote your agenda or make you look bad.

  • Good reporters ask tough questions. Be prepared with facts / data to back up your answers.
  • Reporters are looking for actual news. Make sure you give them more than a basic press release, and don’t call it an “exclusive” unless they are the only one receiving it in advance.
  • Timeliness and proximity make all the difference. Reporters like to write about news that impacts their readers directly.

Media Interview Tips:

  • Research: The first thing to do before a media interview is to research the publication and the reporter. Get a good understanding for the type of content that the outlet covers and the reporter’s style of writing.
  • Know Your Messages: Make sure your messages are strategic and support your overall goal for the interview.
  • Be Concise: Answer the question briefly, then move on to your message
  • Emphasize: Prioritize what you consider to be most important. At the end of the interview if the reporter asks, “is there anything you would like to add?” that that opportunity to make your final point.

What Comes Next:

  • Follow Up: After the interview, make sure to follow up with any additional information or supporting materials that were discussed, or that you think may add value to the story.
  • Share: When the article or segment runs, make sure you share the piece on your social media platforms. This gives you credibility as a spokesperson and gets more eyes on the piece.
  • Learn: Is there something you could have done differently? Address aspects that were well done and note areas for improvement for next time.

Media training can help spokespeople develop the confidence you need to be strong and effective communicators. Like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you become.

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