In my last blog post, I offered up five of the top 10 well-tested guidelines to follow when being interviewed by a reporter. Now I will share the remaining five tips to ease your nerves when engaging in an interview with the press and pave the way for your successful inclusion in an article—one that you will be proud to share with your customers, prospects, boss and, of course, your mom.
As a refresher, the first five tips were:
- Remember that everything you say is on the record.
- Answer questions concisely. If the reporter is silent after your response, do not fill the void…wait until he or she asks for clarification or moves on to a new question.
- Be positive and show your concern. Avoid blame and judgments.
- If you make a mistake, correct it immediately.
- Be friendly, but keep in mind the reporter is not your friend. Neither is the reporter your enemy…necessarily.
The remaining five tips are:
- Stick to your point, your message and the carefully considered responses you prepared before the interview, and do it with conviction.
- Your pre-determined brand messaging should guide the direction of your interview responses. The more you internalize the goals of those messages, the more confident you will feel going into the interview. Your PR rep is a great resource to call on when preparing in advance.
- Never repeat a charge or inflammatory statement; it could be used as a quote.
- Parroting something spoken by an outside influence doesn’t make you the expert, it makes you a potential slanderer. It’s best to stick to your own thoughts and opinions, after all,that is why you are being interviewed in the first place. The more forthright you can be the better, but that doesn’t mean letting it all hang out.
- Do not speculate or answer hypotheticals.
- You don’t have to answer every question you are asked, particularly if you don’t know the answer or don’t feel it’s appropriate to share your thoughts. Do not extemporize simply because the reporter is being persistent. No one expects you to be the expert in everything, so if the question isn’t in your wheelhouse or doesn’t fit your messaging (see tip #6 above), then you can politely bow out of responding.
- If possible, it is generally better to get any and all potentially bad news out quickly and all at once.
- If the interview is part of a crisis communication effort, it is best to deal with all the issues at once, rather than being left to react to story after story as your bad news comes out in installments. Preparation for sharing bad news is absolutely critical. Again referring to #6 above, a pre-determined brand message should guide the direction of your interview responses. Your PR pro can help.
- Avoid legal issues and medical reports.
- Unless you are an attorney, a doctor or a medical researcher, stick to your own area of expertise when being interviewed. If your point can only be driven home by referencing a legal case or medical report, then have your PR rep send the reporter the link in an email after your interview. You don’t want to be quoted for someone else’s findings, which may make you look culpable if those findings turn out to be erroneous later.
Having a strategy for securing, preparing for and engaging in media interviews is critical to becoming well-known in your key markets. Getting media attention means more visibility for your products and company, more visitors to your website and eventually more sales.
Having a PR firm on your side to act as a third party between you and the media doesn’t just help promote you—it also helps protect you.