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Interviewing Dos & Don'ts

You've lined up an interview, so now what? Learn to look and sound your best on camera, on the radio and in print with this crash course in media training.
October 12, 2006

You've written a compelling release, determined the ideal time to issue the news, selected the optimum distribution package through your newswire service provider and developed a list of key media targets. Chances are now strong that reporters will respond, and when they do, they'll want to talk.

This is a good thing. The pinnacle of PR. Unfortunately for some of you, though, media interviews are an anxiety-laden proposition that can limit your ability to effectively articulate the story you're so eager to tell.

If you're one of these people, fear not. There are several techniques you can employ prior to and during an interview that can help smooth the process and create an atmosphere of comfort and control.

What to Expect
The majority of all media interviews are conducted over the phone. The reason is simple. Most reporters are writing on deadline, and the phone provides a simple and efficient way to make contact and gather information. There may be instances when a reporter requests a face-to-face meeting or, given today's digital age, an e-mail exchange. But for the most part, the phone is the communication medium of choice.

When speaking to a reporter over the phone, there are a few specific techniques you should consider. First, if at all possible, use a landline. Poor cell phone connections can be frustrating and may result in misquotes. Second, try standing during the call. It may seem like an odd thing to do, but standing will put you in a more aggressive posture and can even help you focus your thoughts. Lastly, and most important, limit all outside distractions. Turn away from your monitor, close out of e-mail, shut down your PDA, and lock your door. Background noise (literal and figurative) can disrupt your thought process and potentially cause you to misstate a response.

Whether on the phone, in person or via e-mail, the following tips should be considered each and every time you're presented with an interview opportunity. Each can help mean the difference between an article that showcases you and your company as a powerful force in your industry and a story that fails to connect with your audience, or worse, paints your company in a bad light.

To prepare for the interview:

During the interview:

TV and Radio Interviews

TV and radio interviews offer a great way to get your message to the public quickly and directly. While they're short in nature, TV and radio interviews can have a tremendous impact on your company. However, these interviews require additional planning and training.

There are generally two settings in which a TV interview will occur--face-to-face with the reporter or off-site into a camera.

Remember, while there's no way to guarantee that an interview will result in favorable coverage, in most cases, reporters are interested in presenting an accurate, balanced story that'll be appealing to their audience.

If there's one key takeaway from this crash course in media training, it's this: When you state your case in a confident, informative manner, you're helping the journalist. In most cases, that'll result in coverage that reflects positively on you and your company, no matter what the topic is.