29 tips for sailing through a media interview

Pick a few of them—or all of them—to share with your boss or client before he or she sits down with a reporter.

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As a reporter, especially when doing investigative pieces, I also did this. Anticipating what were bound to be sticky conversations enabled me to thread through them more thoughtfully. Now on the PR side, I find the approach aids my coaching of executives who face interviews with the media.

Regardless of the topic, many business leaders get nervous with the media. It’s important to show openness (or at least a sense of neutrality) in an interview— especially one that could be tinged with tension.

Here are 29 tips for prepping interview subjects before they meet the press. Pick a few, or all of them, to brief your clients or boss before the next interview. Tell them to:

1. Picture themselves in the interview, confidently and smoothly answering questions (this really works).

2. Stay calm.

3. Breathe.

4. Use a tone of voice that’s patient and neutral.

5. Write out a few brief, key points they want to be sure they make in the interview.

6. Practice saying those out loud (yes, out loud, just as they would be responding to the journalist).

7. Let the journalist finish the questions without interrupting.

8. Feel free to repeat the question back to the journalist to get clarity about what was asked

9. Pause before answering.

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