So you've got yourself an interview. Maybe you hired a public relations firm or maybe all your DIY PR efforts have paid off. Either way, all that work was leading up to this moment and you'd better be careful not to blow it.
Marsha Friedman, a 21-year veteran of public relations and founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations, gives BusinessNewsDaily readers some tips on how to ace your media interview.
Be responsive — In TV and radio, interview times are prearranged. However, print and online journalists typically have daily and weekly deadlines. When they call you, they need you right then. In many cases, journalists will reach out to several experts on a news item and then choose the one who is the better interview or whoever responded quickest (or a combination of the two). The more reliably you respond, the more likely they will call on you again.
It's not about you — Most journalists are not interested in you, but rather in the expert commentary you can provide. The more you use the words "I" and "my" the less likely they will use you as a source . When speaking to a reporter, keep in mind you are speaking to their audience, so keep your remarks centered on what their audience cares about and you’ll be quoted early and often.
Read before you talk — If you get a call from a publication, take five minutes to go online and read a few of their stories. Look for their tone and approach, so your tone and approach will match. Also look for articles they wrote on your topic, so you can avoid duplicating what someone else said. Finally, read articles written by the journalist you'll be speaking with. There is no better way to prepare for a print or online interview than to read the writings of the reporter interviewing you. You can discover his or her focus, audience and philosophy. The reporter can tell if you’ve read his or her articles through your comments and will respect you for having made the effort to prepare for them.
Don't empty your notebook — Beat reporters — journalists who cover a particular topic or industry — tend to be experts in that field from their time covering it for their publications. They don't need, nor do they want, your soup-to-nuts take on that topic. They need only a few quotes and opinions to round out their stories. Answer direct questions with direct answers, and get to the point quickly. There's no need to tell the reporter everything you know, emptying your notebook of all your collected knowledge, in order to have a good interview. Allowing an interview to devolve into you talking about your philosophy on a particular topic or business will result in your interview landing in the discard pile, and the reporter will likely seek a comment from your competitor instead.
Be professional — Reporters don't call you to talk about the weather, last night's TV, your kids, etc. You'd be surprised how many times I’ve come across people who think a little friendly chit chat can "grease the wheels." If they engage you, that's one thing. It's entirely another if you waste their time with unwanted "schmoozing." Most have deadlines to meet and their time is valuable. Many outlets are working with significantly smaller writing staff than a year ago. Respect their time and they’ll respect you.
Marsha Friedman is the author of the book, "Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business" (Createspace, 2011).
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