6 potent tips for nailing media interviews

Securing the sit-down with that news channel or high-profile (or niche-specific) publication is just the start. Here’s a dandy half-dozen tactics to land your message and ensure a return visit.

So you’ve landed an interview with a respected reporter. Congrats!

The story they publish or clip they air will be amazing for your business—if you get the interview right.

In today’s rapid-fire, 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy for one misinterpreted or out-of-context quote to become a viral social media story.

With the right approach, though, you’ll be able to give a clear, on-message interview—even if the journalist veers off track.

Here are six media relations tactics to take into your next interview.

1. Speak in sound bites. When you’re responding to interview questions, less is more. You want to address the question fully, but you can’t expect a reporter to pick up the “best parts” of your answer if you give a long-winded diatribe. Remember that the most resonant quotes are short and memorable. Practice saying your key messages out loud until they flow as strong, one-sentence statements.

2. Think like a journalist. It’s unrealistic to expect that a reporter will ask you only about the brand messages you want to share. However, you won’t always get to see your interview questions ahead of time, so it’s important to put yourself in a journalist’s shoes. Based on the writer’s beat and the publication they’re writing for, consider what information might add context and flavor to their story. Be prepared to engage in a dialogue, and arm yourself to answer any tough questions.

3. Mind what you say. Just as in a court of law, anything you say to a reporter can be quoted, which may or may not paint you and your company in the best light. Unless you have explicit confirmation that something you say is “off the record,” be mindful about what you say, how you say it, and what you’re willing to share. The general rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t want to see it in a story, don’t say it.

4. Know your message. Have a plan for highlighting your most important brand message. Journalists will usually signal the end of an interview by asking you if there’s anything else you’d like to add. Use this opportunity to reiterate that message to make it stick in the reporter’s mind.

5. Learn to redirect. Although you may feel fully prepared for your interview, there’s always a chance a writer could ask a left-field question. Don’t get flustered. Instead, gracefully redirect the conversation toward a topic that’s more appropriate for the interview at hand.

6. Keep the conversation going. After the interview, thank the journalist for their time. Follow up afterward to offer yourself as a resource in the future, and let them know you’re available to clarify or add to your responses.

Alysha Light is the founder of Flight PR. A version of this post first appeared on the Flight PR blog.

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