28 Aug Tips to Prepare for a Media Interview
A potential media opportunity can strike at any moment. Whether you actively pitched your business’ news to local reporters, or they outreached to you for an upcoming editorial feature, you should always know the process for seizing the moment so you don’t miss out on a potential PR goldmine.
So, let’s fast forward to the part where you have already established an interview with, let’s say, the local business journal. The journalist asks to sit down with you for a half hour one-on-one interview to discuss upcoming industry trends and their impact on your business. Now what?
As PR professionals, we typically follow these steps to ensure our clients are ready and able to nail their interviews:
- Determine the deadline. If there’s no need to rush scheduling an interview, don’t. Be respectful of the journalist’s deadline and schedule, but having extra time to prepare your thoughts and ideas will help ensure you hit all the right points. Not to mention, you’ll have more time to practice, which results in greater confidence.
- Ask for the questions ahead of time. You’d be surprised how often journalists are willing to provide their questions in advance. Even if they don’t send you the exact questions (which they might not even have), they’ll likely tell you what they’re looking for and general themes/ideas. This isn’t to say there won’t be unexpected questions or themes present during the interview, but knowing what the journalist is looking for will help ensure a successful meeting- both for you and for them.
- Train participating employees. If you or your colleague are participating in a media interview for the first time, training is crucial. Knowing the right word usage and body language to convey during an interview can make all of the difference. At LTPR, we provide a complex media training session for our clients, which includes on-the-spot on-camera interviews, followed by a group review. You’ll really spot areas of improvement after hearing your colleagues’ critiques!
- Develop a briefing sheet. Briefing sheets provide necessary context when going into an interview. They typically include the logistics (date, time, location, etc.), followed by the objectives and key talking points you hope to convey. We also provide previous articles written by the reporter so you can get a feel of their tone/style.
- Breathe and let loose. When it’s show time, it’s important to remember one thing: breathe! Yes, you have key talking points you need to hit, and yes, it’s nerve wracking, but with proper preparation you will be good to go. Reporters are people too, so treat the interview like it is: a conversation.
- Follow up with the reporter. When the interview is over, be sure to follow up with the journalist, thanking them for the opportunity. Also, ask them if they need additional information, photos, etc.
It’s important to keep in mind that the journalist and their outlet have full control over the content they write. You may hit all of your talking points, but often times they’ll just use the soundbites that fit best with their story. The most you can do is prepare ahead of time and hit the key notes you’d like to convey about your business.
So, what if the interview is about a recent crisis your business went through, or something your business did wrong? Stay tuned in the coming weeks for tips on how to prepare/navigate a potentially negative interview!