OK, you’ve spent all that time trying to get the media interested in you and your business. So, what do you do when a journalist phones you? They say they want a chat or an interview and that they are on a deadline. Time is ticking and you can feel your blood pressure rising.

DSC_0669-watchAll too often it’s easy to focus on trying to get the interview but that’s of no use if , once you’ve got it, you mess it up and look like a fool, is it?

Getting the media interested is just part of the equation – you then need to prepare for it. So, to help you get the most from your media interview opportunity, here are 7 top tips.

7 top tips for nailing your media interview

1. First, don’t talk to a journalist off the cuff – unless it’s in response to a press release you have sent in which case you should be prepared for taking the call. If the call is unexpected then you need to do some detective work to get the context. For example, you need to know:

  • why the journalist is contacting you
  • what’s the story
  • where they got the story from
  • who else have they spoken to or plan to speak to
  • what they want – to speak to you for a quote, interview or for background information
  • their deadline

The answers to these questions help you to decide whether this is the right opportunity for you. Also, by getting the answers to these questions you can build up a picture of the angle the journalist is exploring and how, and whether, you might be able to help them.

2. Do your research – you need to find out who the journalist is working for so you can work out their agenda, their audience and how the interview will be used.

3. Prepare for the interview – think about the audience, what they know and the three key points you want to get across. You don’t want any more than three points because otherwise it becomes messy and tricky to remember. But, having three key points doesn’t mean that you just keep repeating those messages word for word.

4. Work out in advance the examples you can use to support your key messages. Your examples need to be relevant to the audience and to resonate with them.

5. Use the right language – using ‘word pictures’ where you describe something to create a visual image in the minds of the audience helps your message come alive and makes it much more memorable. ‘Word pictures’ can be really effective in getting your messages across. For example, you could describe something as being over 9 metres high, or you could say that it is as high as a London double decker bus. Using the latter immediately helps to give a sense of scale and paints that picture in the minds of the audience.

6. Be clear about the set up for the interview – will the chat on the phone be the interview itself or not, is it for print, radio, television, live or recorded, as part of a panel discussion or one-to-one? The answers to those questions will influence how you prepare. Also, if you do need to travel to a studio then double check all logistics – where you need to be and when, who you need to ask for when you arrive, a contact name for just in case you are delayed on the day.

7. Rehearse in advance with colleagues – it’s a good idea to list down the likely questions as well as those you think would be the most difficult to answer. And, ask colleagues to run through a mock interview with you – it will help you to find the right words to get your points across.

In a nutshell: You can never do too much preparation for a media interview. You need to start by asking the journalists the right questions so that you have all the information to prepare properly.

How do you prepare for media interviews?

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Image credit: Debbie Leven