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How to Conduct a Successful Media Interview

It is no surprise that people conduct business with professionals they know and trust as well as those who are top of mind. One of the best ways to keep in front of your key audiences is through media interviews. Positive news coverage increases your visibility and credibility by showcasing your knowledge and positioning you as an expert source. 
Preparation is Essential
Whether you are being interviewed for a print or online publication or conducting a broadcast interview, it is critical to prepare in advance. You should consider what you want to say, what the reporter wants to report, and what the public wants to know. 
•    Understand the news angle. It is essential to know the focus of the article – the exact subject being discussed – and the purpose of the piece. Is the reporter trying to educate the audience on a specific topic? Is the article meant to offer tips or new insights? Is it a persuasive opinion piece? The more you know going into the interview, the better prepared you can be. 

•    Know what you want to say.  Once you know the topic, prepare three to four relevant, newsworthy message points. Clearly flag your key messages.

•    Consider potential questions and prepare for the tough ones. What might the reporter want to know? Start with the basics… who, what, where, when, why, and, most significantly, who cares? You want to offer valuable, useful content.

•    Familiarize yourself with the media outlet, its content and audience. Also, check the reporter’s background via LinkedIn and by reviewing his or her past articles. This will give you a better understanding of the reporter’s history, writing style and focus. 

Delivering the Content
The best interviews are those in which the reporter obtains the information he or she needs to produce a solid story, and you succeed in presenting your key points. 
•    Highlight your key points and provide supporting facts and figures. Anecdotes, illustrations and analogies are effective ways to explain a point, especially one that may be difficult to grasp. Refine your message to fit the interview. Don’t spin off topic. 

•    Don’t assume that the reporter knows what you know. Reporters are not necessarily specialists in your area, and they need you to help them write the story.  

•    Listen carefully to the reporter’s questions, and stop and think before answering. Then make your point succinctly and confidently. Do not over answer. If the reporter needs further clarification, he or she will ask. At the same time, keep control over what you are saying. Do not argue with a reporter or let him or her put words in your mouth!

•    If you don’t know the answer to a question, do not fake it. Always stay within your area of expertise and speak honestly. You don’t have to know the answer to every question. 

•    Stay positive and upbeat. Discuss solutions, not problems. 

•    Never speak off the record. Once something is said, it cannot be unsaid or unheard. Also, avoid saying “No comment.” It implies that you are hiding information. 

Effective Discourse
The delivery of your message is just as important as your content. 
•    Articulate your message in a clear, concise manner and avoid industry jargon and acronyms. Remember, a reporter does not know your business like you do, and your goal is to help him or her understand your key points.

•    Modulate your voice and slow down! The reporter is trying to quickly grasp everything you’re saying and record it.  You don’t want to be misquoted! There is nothing wrong with pausing when you are gathering your thoughts.

•    If it is an in-person interview, make eye contact and gesture appropriately. You want to have an engaging conversation.

•    Always be friendly, polite and helpful.  Provide follow up information, if necessary.

Positive press equals positive exposure, which can ignite new and repeat business. With careful preparation, thoughtful dialogue and honest communication, you can elevate your image and achieve even greater business success.    

by Jeannette Boccini, President of News-Muse.


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