If you’ve ever felt like it’s the media’s world and you’re just living in it, then this one’s for you! Whether you’re a CEO, small business owner, communications director, or on the board of a non-profit, telling your company’s story is at the heart of your role. And though the news landscape is ever-changing, talking to the media is still one of the primary ways of getting your story out there. We know – insert eye roll. But the truth is that engaging in a media interview doesn’t have to be hard…or intimidating. Check out (and put into practice) these tried-and-true tips that will have you acing your next media interview in no time!
Top 10 Media Interview Tips
1. Do your research.
Nobody, actually, likes a blind date – and the same goes for media interviews. Prior to speaking with a news reporter, take the time to do your research! Google the media outlet, read the reporter’s recent stories, find out what kind of questions they like to ask. You’ll be surprised at the amount of confidence that comes with simply putting a face to a name.
2. Know your message (thought for thought).
While talking points are an integral part to any communications strategy, repeating them word-for-word (over and over again) will almost always come across as insincere and canned. Next time you receive talking points, don’t just memorize them, but rather get to know the message and mission behind each statement.
3. Practice your delivery.
We love a good one-sheet, but until you take those words off paper and speak them into the universe, it’s hard to really know what your delivery will be like. Whether it’s driving in the car, getting ready for work, or in the office basement, practice responding to interview questions out loud, not just in your head!
4. Be clear and concise (avoid jargon).
We know you live, eat, and breathe the industry that you’re in, but keep in mind that most of your audience does not. When speaking to a reporter, remember to be clear and concise in your messaging – avoiding industry jargon altogether or quickly defining it afterward.
5. Tell the truth, always.
Don’t lie, ever. Whether it’s a truth that’s hard to face or a truth you actually don’t know, find a way to say exactly that – and say it well.
6. Be engaging.
Watch ten media interviews and you’ll find that no matter how good the talking points are, what you remember most is the person behind them. Your tone, your mannerisms, your ability to hold a conversation – sometimes these things matter more than the words themselves. You’re speaking to people, not a camera. So, be engaging!
7. Listen and pause.
In the midst of an interview when nerves are running at an all-time high, even the best of us can fall prey to focusing on our next response more than the question at hand. Remember to listen, pause, and then respond. Though it may feel like an eternity, a few seconds of silence is perfectly acceptable.
8. Use bridging and flagging techniques.
Take control of every interview and tricky question by using “bridging” and “flagging” techniques.
- Get asked a hypothetical question? Acknowledge the question and then refocus your statement by “bridging” into one of your talking points – “I think what you’re really asking is…”
- Have a point that you want to focus on? Answer the question at hand and then “flag” importance by saying – “What’s really critical here is…”
9. Follow up after the interview.
Do you have more to share? Did you promise the reporter additional information? Did your company just release a press release? Following up post interview, even with a simple thank you, will go a long way in creating a relationship with your local media.
10. Be a friend of the media.
Speaking of…when it comes to interacting with the media, the key to a successful interview is changing your mindset, altogether. The relationship you have with the media should be reciprocal – you have a story to tell, and they have the medium to tell the story. The more you lean into this mindset (proactively pitching stories, engaging in outside conversations, following up with information), the more at ease you’ll begin to feel.