My previous post discussed how to prepare for a media interview. Here are some tips on how to handle the interview itself.
Think of the interview as a conversation with an important customer or prospect. Call the interviewer by name. Relax as much as possible.
Take control of the interview as much as possible. You are the expert and every question is an excuse to repeat your message(s).
At the same time, realize the interviewer has a story angle in mind. Relate your answers to that angle; don’t try to send the interviewer off in a totally different direction.
Listen to the whole question. Make sure you understand it. If not, ask for clarification. Take your time. Think about the answer before you speak.
Make your main point(s) early in the interview and periodically throughout it.
Make it easy for people to understand your message. Answer briefly, using short words and simple sentences. Illustrate your points with examples and stories.
Outline your answers. (e.g., “I’d like to make two points.”) “Flag” your main points. (e.g., “This is the single most important thing.”)
Don’t talk “off the record” or “just for background.” That information might find its way into the article or report.
Don’t say “no comment” or make casual remarks. Assume everything you say will be quoted directly.
If you follow these tips, your interviews will help spread the word about your business or organization. If you will be doing lots of interviews, invest in formal media-interview training. You’ll be glad you did.
More information about the media is available at www.CommunicationsPlus.net/PRArticles.html.
Susan Monroe says
These are great tips, Kay. During my very brief PR career, I remember sitting in on a formal media training session conducted by one of the VPs at the PR firm where I worked. It was wonderful to see him work with a CEO who was really inexperienced in dealing with the media and help him gain confidence