How to Conduct an Impactful Media Interview

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The news release was issued to the media and now they are calling asking for an interview. Do you pick up the phone and begin talking? No. Take a few minutes to read this guide and learn some strategies to make sure that your media interview is impactful.

Consider it this way – would you step on the stage and give a presentation to tens of thousands of people without preparing your thoughts and fine tuning your message? Hopefully not. You’d spend some time reviewing your notes, checking out your physical appearance and making sure you remember your key points. Think about your media interview for a presentation to a large group of individuals. Even if you can’t see them, hundreds or even thousands (possibly millions) of people may read the guide, listen to the interview or see the clip.

Okay let’s begin with some basic ways to prepare.

1. Write down your three important messages. When you are done your interview, what are the three key things you want the reporter, and viewers, to recall?

2. Formulate your interview about these crucial points. When asked questions that are”off message” return to these points. Use them to transition out of sticky questions. Case in point – while that is a fantastic question, I wish to stress what is important to keep in mind is… insert key message.

3. Determine what media outlet you are speaking to and the average amount of audio or video clips or story length for print. If it’s radio and the interview’s for a short news story, keep your interview brief as they’ll likely only use a 10-30 second clip. When it’s video or television, you might get 60 minutes of you talking in the story.

4. Tailor your message to fit the needs of this audience of this media outlet. Is that a local news outlet? National? Each media interview should be unique, tailored to fit the needs of the particular audience, versus repeating the same information the same way in 10 different media interviews.

5. Take stock of your appearance. Solid colours are best for video interviews. No mad patterns or logos (unless it’s your own company’s logo). And for men – button up your shirt and empty your pockets so you are not tempted to jingle your keys.

6. Stick to your three important points. This way when your comments are edited, what appears in the story will be on topic.

7. Too few people take the time to say thank you.

Once the story is live, review the coverage to see how well you delivered your message and identify how you can improve for future interviews.

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