If you’re the newly chosen company thought leader or spokesperson, you might feel intimidated by the prospect of being interviewed by reporters. The best way to combat a case of the nerves is with solid preparation. Taking notes and asking questions during your PR agency’s media training session is a strong place to start. Whether you have the guidance of a PR agency at your disposal or you’re on your own, here are some media interview preparation pointers.
Review the Interview Topic Ahead of Time
You’d be surprised by how many new thought leaders, who lack guidance from a PR agency, will hop on a phone call with a reporter and expect the reporter to acclimate them with the agreed-upon-in-advance topic. Being underprepared to deliver on your end of the interview bargain is a great way to ensure future outreach to that reporter gets deleted without a second glance. Brush up on the interview topic ahead of time and be sure to look into articles the reporter has previously written on the topic to become familiar with the types of quotes they typically pull from other thought leaders.
Rehearse the Delivery of Key Messages
It is critical to focus on messages that directly answer the questions of the reporter. Be comfortable telling him/her if you are not 100% sure how to respond to anything out of your wheelhouse — that is ok to do and far better than making something up. Rehearse your key messages out loud to smooth out the delivery. Having someone on hand to be your sounding board is even better; the second set of ears can be helpful for practicing and refining the speed at which you speak. Ultimately, your task as a thought leader/company representative is to demonstrate the value of your knowledge for the reporters’ specific inquiries.
Focus on Succinct Soundbites
When you take too long to make your point without allowing the reporter to interject, you run the risk of rambling for several minutes. Reporters are notorious for working on hard and fast deadlines and respect thought leaders who get to the point and are mindful of their time. The more succinctly you can make the delivery of your key messages, the more well-received your comments will be.
Be Up-to-Date on Current News Topics
Trending topics and breaking news, like election security or COVID-19, will occasionally come up in the form of a supplemental question from a reporter. When preparing for a media interview, always take into account relevant current events. As previously mentioned, if you aren’t confident in your answer to a question, be honest. In this instance, you have the opportunity to not be totally caught off guard if you’re tracking the news and brainstorm some questions that could come from it during your interview.
Have a Quiet, Private Location Ready
In the business world, is there anything worse than trying to communicate via phone or video conference with a poor connection or lots of background noise? If you are taking a phone call interview, try to be in your office. Being in the car or a restaurant are two prime examples of environments with too much background noise. For video conference calls, make sure you are hardwired, this will help prevent glitches in the recording. Lastly, if you are planning to meet in-person for coffee or lunch, be cognizant of those around you – you never know who might be eavesdropping! Don’t forget to silence your phone and other devices.
Expect to be Asked, “Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share?”
There is a strong possibility that at the end of the interview, the reporter will give you the floor to share final thoughts. Be ready! This is your chance to share something about your company and product/service. This should not be a sales pitch, but a thoughtful comment on how applicable your brand is to the topic just discussed.