PR Smarts Article: Acing Media Interviews Like a Pro
Before the Interview
• Congratulations! You're going to be interviewed for an article or a broadcast. If you are new to working with the media, you probably want to practice getting a few key messages into your answers. What do you want your audience (customers, potential customers, investors, etc.) to learn about you? Here are a few short tips on what to do before and during the interview.
• Never do an interview cold. Prepare yourself.
• Learn what you can about the publication, audience, interviewer and story. Read the reporter's last couple of stories.
• Start with a goal. Visualize the “headline.” What would you like the story to say?
• Review your 5-6 “must-say” message points that make your case.
• Practice answers to all potential questions. Have your staff grill you. They will enjoy it. You probably won't, but it will make your answers more potent.
During the Interview
• Arrive on time. Give yourself a few minutes to relax and practice.
• If it is a phone interview, remove distractions. Hold calls and visits. Get into the proper mindset.
• Keep message points in front of you. Repeat 2-3 times during interview.
• Speak THROUGH the reporter TO your audience.
• Be engaging and friendly. Don’t be defensive. Speak slowly. Give the reporter time to write accurately.
• Don’t repeat a negative question; it will end up as part of your quotes in the story. Bridge to your “must-say” messages. Stay positive.
• Thou Shalt Not Be Boring. Keep answers brief and quotable. Avoid jargon, acronyms, industry slang, etc.
• Make your points easily understood, e.g., “The three most critical issues in this situation are…”
• Do NOT go “off the record.” Assume everything you say (even small talk) is fair game from the time you show up until you get back into your car.
• In a confrontational interview, keep to the high road. Avoid emotion.
• Don’t guess. “I don’t know -- I’ll get back to you on it,” is a fine answer. And, do get back to the reporter with the information.
• Never say, “No comment.” It is defensive.
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