IF YOU’VE sought out this post from our Media Room, then I’m guessing a “congratulations’’ is in order. Your press release was successful and now you’re planning for that interview. Apart from “breathe’’ and staying relaxed, there’s a few tips you can follow to make a media interview less daunting.
- Be prepared. Know what you want to say and then say exactly what you mean. If need be, take in notes, but don’t ever “read’’ them during an interview. Know your topic and be interesting. The better the interview, the better the story.
- Make sure your key message is catchy. If you can, have it within a “golden quote’’ – that is a line a reporter can’t help but want to include. Be witty, but best of all, be honest. If you are saying/doing something which is false, it will show.
- The best way to emphasise your key message is to repeat it. Stay on message. Say it 100 different ways, not the same way, but say it!
- Be clear and concise with your answers. The quickest way to get misquoted is to ramble, go off topic and start using jargon. Don’t try and use big words. It’s the old “KISS” principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).
- If you don’t understand the question, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
- Always answer. If you get thrown a difficult question, answer briefly and then put forward your key message. You should also be prepared for such questions beforehand. It’s best not to say “no comment’’ as it implies you’re hiding something. It is acceptable to say “I’m unable to speak about that because…’’.
- Use personal anecdotes and stories that illustrate your point and give examples. Be prepared to open up.
- Do your research and have facts and figures at hand to emphasise your point. For example, one in three women will seek help with breastfeeding; our business is the first to win this award in 20 years.
- Never mention something is “off the record’’ or provide information you don’t want included in the interview unless you have a personal relationship with the reporter or previous experience with them. Some reporters may not honour this.
- Always be presentable. This is obvious for television, but if for print, you may need to be photographed.
Written by a journalist, who happens to be married to a deputy editor
How do you think you’d cope in an interview? Have you been interviewed before? What tips would you give others?