When journalists requests an interview, it’s usually a welcome opportunity to tell your story and demonstrate your expertise.
At other times, the media will want answers when something has gone wrong (look out for part 2 of this article, which will cover crisis management).
Either way, preparation is key. Here are our top tips for a successful media interview:
1. Understand the brief
Get a clear understanding of what you are expected to talk about and who the target audience is. Establish whether the interview will be in person, via video call or phone and ask for the journalist’s deadline.
Most journalists will brief you on the subject and the angle they are taking. Some are happy to provide questions by email in advance. Others are reluctant to do this because it risks making the interview predictable and formulaic.
Ahead of the interview, always prepare clear notes that cover the journalist’s likely questions and rehearse your company’s key messages. After all, this is an opportunity to get your name out there and demonstrate your expertise.
2. On the day
Don’t be scared. Not every journalist is like Paxman. Most are simply looking for a good quote on which to pin their story or an expert viewpoint to help their viewers/readers understand the subject matter.
If the interview is to be broadcast live, ensure you get there in plenty of time and (especially for TV) dress appropriately for the programme and in a way that reflects well on your business.
If you are speaking via phone or video call, find a quiet room with no background noise or distractions. You want to be the star of your own interview. Do you remember Prof Robert Kelly? You will when you watch his BBC interview that went viral https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4f9AYRCZYe
3. Answer the questions
Be open, articulate and friendly. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. Be honest if you don’t know the answer but try to give a positive response, for example by offering to supply the required information after the interview. Whatever you do, don’t bluff it.
Think about what more you can offer the journalist. Have statistics or research handy in case you are asked to provide evidence about the points you are making.
Do name check your business if an opportunity arises (so long as it doesn’t sound too cheesy!)
4. After the interview
Well done on getting through it! You will immediately think of a key point that you forgot. Don’t worry about it. There will be other opportunities.
Don’t be disappointed if your quote is small or you only get a few seconds on air. You may have answered the question so succinctly that the journalist only needs to include a small section of your interview.
Don’t be too disappointed if the interview is not used. The news agenda can change quickly and your piece may get delayed. You might find yourself quoted in an online article instead.
Make a positive impression and you will become a valuable addition to the journalist’s contacts book.
Finally, don’t be modest! Share the coverage via your website and social media channels.
Cicada offers media training sessions to help you come across better in interviews.