Media interview survival tips

The most important thing to remember in a media interview is that it is an opportunity for you to get your messages to your audience through the journalist.

For print, it is important not to respond to any questions on the initial call. Ask the journalist what information they are looking for and the format of the interview (if it is over the phone, one-on-one, live or taped).  All journalists work to a deadline, so find out what their deadline is and set a time to call them back. Make sure you call them at the agreed time.

For online media often they are working to a tight deadline and need an immediate response. In this case, only participate in the interview if you know your topic very well.

Setting your agenda

Before you undertake the interview you will need to write out a game plan. The game plan covers key issues, possible questions about the key issues and the answers for each possible question. It is important to write these out – don’t do it from memory. If you are doing a phone interview, have the plan and media release in front you for easy reference.

Develop compelling messages

What are the critical messages that you want to communicate? Key messages are the core messages you want your audience to hear and remember. They create meaning, headline the issue and allow you to control the interview.

Understand the journalist’s role

The journalist’s role is not to try to catch you out, but to establish the facts and report on them objectively. Journalists are looking for the truth. If you try to get a story by making claims that cannot be substantiated, it will not lead to a story. The article will not be published and they will certainly never ask you for an interview again.

Practice, practice, practice

After your preparation, you should review your game plan and do a practice interview. Close the door to your office, take the phone of the hook and spend 10 minutes going over your key messages and answering the questions from your game plan. Remember this is your opportunity to get your messages to your audience, so make full use of it.

Catriona Pollard
BY Catriona Pollard ON 3 April 2012
Director, CP Communications, which provides specialist PR and social media strategies that achieve positive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved sales results.