How To Do A Media Interview – 10 Tips For Getting It Right
If you incorporate PR in to your business thinking and marketing strategy then chances are, at some point you will find yourself in a media interview. Unfortunately, for many, that’s something that features pretty high on their least favourite things to do list. The good news is that like any skill, it’s something that can be learned.
- Ask for the questions beforehand: First and foremost, it’s always a good idea to ask (or get your appointed PR practitioner to ask) for the set of questions before an interview takes place so you can prepare your answers in advance (in some cases you may be able to email your answers without ever having to conduct a face-to-face or telephone interview).
- Find out the context of the interview beforehand: If you are being asked to join a debate or others are being interviewed alongside you, make sure you know who they are and whether they hold an opposing view to your own to help you anticipate the likely style of the interview and prepare accordingly.
- Define your objective: Make sure you’re clear why you want to do the interview and what business objectives you are setting out to accomplish before you begin.
- Prepare your key messages: Put together some bullet points of the key points you want to make in the interview.
- Less is more: Don’t be afraid of the sound of silence. Take the time to think through your answers, make the points you wanted to make and keep them concise. The interviewer will be taking notes anyway, so there’s no need to rush.
- Bridging: Kelly Anne Conway (Counsellor to President Trump) is the master practitioner of this technique. She uses it, not only in every interview she does, but in almost every question of every interview. What Conway does so well – to the consternation of journalists everywhere – is pivot from the question asked, (often almost immediately) to the issues she wants to discuss instead. She’ll often latch on to a word expressed in the question, then use that word in her answer, so it sounds like she’s answering the question, when, in fact, she just makes whatever point it is she wanted to make. She fully commits to her messaging and belligerently sticks to it, no matter what. This technique while highly effective is likely to irritate the journalist conducting the interview, so we recommend adapting the technique by addressing the question asked and then bridging in to the point you want to makewith something like: “But the real issue is…” or “But what people need to know is…”
- Tell the truth: Don’t lie, you’ll most likely be found out anyway and there’s no need. If you can’t say something, just explain that you can’t and why… Some things are confidential after all.
- Anticipate questions from Hell: Being ready for the worst-case scenarios should be part of your preparation.
- Keep it simple, stupid: Don’t bluster! Use simple-to-understand analogies or examples to illustrate your points.
- Keep your cool: The journalist is just doing their job, so don’t shoot the messenger! Remain calm, don’t get angry and stay on point. A media interview is not just a friendly chat.