Being Interviewed by the Press? Here's How to Prepare.
My new company is going to be profiled for a major publication for a story about innovators and entrepreneurs. I'm a bit nervous. Do you have any tips for giving a good interview?
Attracting the attention of a major publication means that your company is doing something right. Here are a few tips after having tried, failed and finally succeeded with giving interviews over the years:
First, unless this is some kind of exposé (I hope not!), recognize that journalists want to tell the best story they can. Your job is to make their job easier by being prepared.
Make sure you understand the angle the journalist is taking with the story a few days before the interview, if possible. Read the journalist’s work online to understand this writer’s beat and approach. Ask about the overall intent of the article. Is it a profile? A subset of a larger article on a topic relevant to your company? A story about trends? This will allow you to shape your responses in such a way that serves the publication, and increases your presence in the article. You don’t want to give an hour interview only to find one tiny quote in the finished article. This happened to me a few times in the early days of my business.
Do not exaggerate or feel the need to overstate what’s going on with your company. Remember that interviews will live online forever (or at least it feels like it), so you will have to live with the consequences of your words for a long time to come. Also, remind yourself in advance what you are not going to share so that those tidbits don’t slip out during the interview.
Make sure that you have a clear understanding of what you want to get from the interview. Do you want to present yourself as an expert? Or your business as a trend leader? Condense your message into a few key one-liners that the journalist can easily pick up on and use in the article. If you are giving a phone interview, write those one-liners down and keep them in front of you so you can look for an opportunity to slip them in. Also, making your message more “portable” will help readers remember you.
Recognize that one feature in a publication is not a “magic bullet.” The first magazine in which I was featured had a circulation of millions, and I naively thought it would catapult my business to another level. Instead, it simply provided a layer of credibility that made it easier to approach potential clients and win business that may have otherwise been out of reach. Publicity is the air coverage that makes it easier for the ground troops to actually grow the business.
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