As many business owners know, publicity is a cost-effective way to get your message out to your target audiences. Publicity has an important, implied third-party endorsement/credibility. While every media interview is different, there are some basic rules you can follow in any interview situation to make your presentation most effective. Whether you are working with a reporter from a print, broadcast or online media outlet, keep these 10 things in mind:
- Be prepared.
Using the familiar journalist’s crutch of who, what, when, where andwhy will help you prepare for any interview. Address each of these questions before the interview to help you refine your objectives and build confidence.
- Know how to say it in 30 seconds.
If you can deliver your message in 30 seconds, you stand a better chance of getting your entire message across intact. You can always elaborate during the interview, but the primary thrust of your statement should be short and to the point.
- Know the reporter and the story.
What does the reporter already know about the story? What other stories has he written about the topic? Who else has she interviewed for the story? Make sure you know something about the media
outlet and its audience.
- Know your rights.
You can set the time, place and time limit for the interview. You don’t have to do an interview on a topic in which you lack the expertise. You can also make a taped copy of the interview for your files.
- Know that you are always on the record.
Any communication with a reporter is fair game to be included in a story. Reporters sometimes get great stories at trade shows or in bars or restrooms. If you have a reason you can’t answer a question, find another way to communicate that other than “no comment.”
- Be calm.
Harness your adrenaline and nervousness and use it to your advantage. Being prepared for the interview can help you channel your nervous energy.
- Take charge.
Remember the top three points you want to make — and make them. Use a related question as a springboard or build in a pertinent question when you respond to the interviewer. If you want to drop a topic, put a friendly cut-off into your answer.
- Know who you are and why you’re there.
Know your area of expertise and stick to it. You have the right to be heard and mention your company or organization. There’s also nothing wrong with deferring a question until you have the facts.
- Avoid being manipulated.
Don’t answer unrealistic hypothetical conversations. Be aware of reporters who try to put words in your mouth. If you’re asked a question about something proprietary, indicate that and bridge back to your objectives.
- Know how your interview will be used.
Expect that your interview will be edited. So, keep repeating your messages in simple, easy to understand language for the audience. Ask the reporter when the interview will appear and offer to answer any further questions as he is working on the story. In most cases, it’s not okay to ask to review a copy of the story before it appears.
Laurie W. Anderson, APR, is the co-owner of Cactus Creative PR and Marketing.