Press Readiness 101: Mastering Your Media Interview
With every media interview comes the opportunity to get your B2B company’s story into the press, but talking about your company alone won’t help you make headlines. Giving a good interview is an art form that requires the right amount of messaging and newsworthy information, as well as a polished spokesperson.
Whether you’re pitching yourself as a thought leader or already have an interview lined up, let’s dive into what it means to be press ready and how you can prepare to engage with the media when the time is right.
Preparing for the Interview
Remember that reporters are on deadline and don’t have full control over the final product once an interview and story are submitted to their editor. This makes a polished, well-prepared spokesperson that much more important. Even the most intelligent, well-spoken executives might need a refresher on interview best practices, have limited experience with the media or simply not feel comfortable in an interview setting.
Knowing this, below are four key steps you can take to prepare for a media interview:
1. Do Your Research
Prior to your interview, spend some time researching the media outlet’s audience. Knowing who will eventually read, watch or listen to your interview will help you tailor your messages to ensure relevance to readers.
Similar to knowing the outlet’s audience, having a feel for the temperament and style of the reporter interviewing you can go a long way. In addition to having a general understanding of the reporter’s beat, ask yourself these questions: What have they covered recently? How familiar is he or she with your company, offerings, industry? And most importantly, do they have any apparent biases? If you sense your reporter has an underlying bias toward your company or industry, you may need to prepare for tougher questions.
2. Craft Your Key Messages
Solid messaging is concise, memorable and addresses the topic at hand. A good rule of thumb is to prepare three key messages for every interview and bridge back to one of those messages with each response.
Once you’ve determined what your key messages should be, now it’s time to craft your delivery so you can share them in an impactful way. Remember to keep your points clear and easy to understand by following these techniques:
- Repeat: Repetition is a way for your message to linger in the minds of the audience. Keep in mind that the shorter messages are, the easier they are to repeat.
- Emphasize: Remember to place emphasis on the most important part of your message.
- Analogize: Use analogies make obtuse messages easier to understand.
- Describe: Come prepared with anecdotes, customer testimonials or specific examples wherever possible to add clarity and credibility to your response.
Ultimately, you can deliver a strong answer in an interview by first restating the question to indicate you understand the issue at hand, followed by a relevant, concise key message.
3. Anticipate Different Types of Interview Questions
All interviews are different, but below are four types of questions you can generally expect to encounter. Prepare to answer all of them.
- Background: Provide the interviewer with context around your expertise.
- Evidential: Provide specific use cases or examples to support your argument.
- Opinion: Sound off on popular, related subjects or news stories.
- Advisory: Deliver action items to bring your theories and arguments to life.
As you prepare for different types of interview questions, remember to always keep your key message at the forefront of your response.
Practice makes perfect, and interviews are no exception to this rule. Practice answering some sample questions out loud, but avoid developing a script. Instead, bullet out a few key pieces of your answers so you hit the main points.
You may also consider running a mock interview with a colleague or friend so you can receive tactical feedback on how best to bridge back to key messages or calm any nervous habits. After going through a mock interview, use the below checklist to ensure you’re delivering your message in an effective manner:
- Did you miss any key messages?
- Did you go off message or ramble?
- Do you overuse filler words? (e.g., ums, uhs and ahs)
- Do you have any nervous ticks?
Building Rapport With Your Interviewer
Reporters are people, and as with any person you want to win over, it’s important to build rapport. Below are a few simple tips for fostering a relationship with a journalist before, during and after your interview.
Before the Interview
Before the interview, make sure to first thank the reporter for meeting with you. You may also consider mentioning a recent article they wrote to show you did your homework or offer to share a quick overview of your background before starting.
During the Interview
During the interview, remember to give the reporter time to process what you’re saying and allow them to ask questions if they need to. Try to avoid jargon and check with them periodically to see if your responses make sense. If you’re talking about something more technical, ask if the reporter needs clarification or additional examples in order to understand what you’re talking about, especially if they’re not an expert in your field.
After the Interview
After the interview, make sure to thank the reporter for taking the time to meet with you and offer to answer any follow-up questions they might have. It’s also smart to reiterate the best way to reach you — whether that’s via email, phone or through your PR team. Finally, be sure to share any other topics you can be a source for so they know you’re versatile and can speak to issues beyond what was discussed in the interview.
A successful media interview can help you achieve greater visibility within your target markets and enhance your credibility as a leading expert in your industry. If you need more help with refining your messaging or improving your interview performance, contact our media experts here.