Advice Unlimited

Interviews with the media are a wonderful way to educate your audience on your organization and get your story out. However, actually participating in the interview and speaking with reporters and editors can be daunting.

Like many executive-level responsibilities, the more you prepare ahead of time the better you’ll do – you might even find that it can be fun! Following are some basic do’s and don’ts for effective media encounters.
 

DO

Be Prepared with a Media Plan:
 
Ensure that your organization does in fact have a media plan, and that all employees know who your designated spokespeople are. Make sure all employees know to direct media requests to your PR professional and/or the approved, pre-appointed, media trained spokespeople.
 
Remember Who You Are Talking to:

Sandy’s #1 Rule: make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you say being used as a headline on the cover of the Washington Post. Seriously. You are always on the record; be sure you are always honorable, truthful, and comfortable with what you are saying to any media representative, anytime.

Be Respectful:

Media inquiries need to be dealt with by the PR team in a timely and efficient manner. Be polite and direct when answering any questions or concerns for them. Always be honest and transparent; treat reporters with respect, and they’ll respond in kind.

Understand Your Body Language:

During face to face meetings, be aware of your body language. Body language can say a lot about you so be calm, relaxed and attentive.

Always Have Facts (Stats are Gold):

Whenever you are answering questions for reporters, you need to know the facts. If there is a question that can be explained with stats, provide them. Reporters love numbers, as long as they’re facts that are relevant and accurate. Irrelevant facts can turn a strong answer into a meaningless one; inaccurate facts can do a world of damage.

Read the Publication:

Before the interview, take some time to review the publication (or TV or radio program or blog or e-zine, etc.), and if possible, read some similar type stories by the reporter you’ll be talking with. It will be tremendously helpful in understanding what the reporter will be looking for, and who their audience is.

DON’T

NEVER LIE:

Lies will ruin a person’s credibility and an organization’s reputation. If you do not know the answer to a question or cannot provide specific facts, tell the reporter that, then offer to find out that information after the interview and get back to them. This will help to build credibility and trust with the reporter and will ensure you do not provide any inaccurate information.

NEVER SPEAK “OFF THE RECORD”:

Remember Sandy’s #1 Rule – there is never a conversation that’s truly ‘off the record.’ If you say something, you own it. So think before you speak.

NEVER ARGUE:

You own your words, you control what you say. If a reporter baits you, or says something that’s absolutely not correct, state the truth clearly and calmly. Do not repeat any inaccurate statements; state only what is accurate and truthful, clearly and calmly.

Particularly if you’re in a crisis situation, practicing with tough questions and a trained PR professional will improve your performance significantly. When things are great and you have a positive story to tell, practice helps you stay focused on your key messages and on providing the reporter the information they need to get excited and understand the value of your story. So practice! Try to simulate stressful situations to be prepared for the unexpected. Practice until you feel comfortable with the interview topic, and with telling your story to someone new. Remember this quick checklist when you are preparing for your interview and it should be a hit! For more tips on dealing with the media, and to learn about the media training we offer, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

2013. Advice Unlimited LLC.

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