Being interviewed by the media for the first time can be nerve wracking. Whether it is a print interview or a broadcast interview, you are being asked very specific questions that you need to answer is a way that reflects well on your organization and you as a representative of that organization. Both print and broadcast have their own unique challenges but overall there are similarities to any media interview. Experts and beginners alike can benefit by keeping the following tips for media interviews in mind.
Your goal should be to get your message out and to represent yourself and your organization in the best light possible.
Preparation is key
Whether you have been interviewed fifty times or have never been interviewed on camera, preparation is important. Prior to being interviewed, you should ask yourself a question. What is the goal of this interview? Answering this one question is vital in your interview preparation. If you have time, set up a call or a mock interview session with your marketing or PR agency. They’ll be able to offer message framing, specific media interview tips and also, recognize communication tics or mannerisms that could be distracting.
Practice but not too much
Once you have set your interview goal, develop a message triangle that is focused and informative. Develop a set of simple talking points and make sure you know them. You shouldn't try to memorize every single word in every single bullet point, you need to be able to sound natural and not scripted.
Avoid any jargon or “inside baseball” discussion. Even if you are speaking with an industry publication, using jargon isn’t an authentic way of speaking and can come off as false.
Do not feel the need to fill the silence in the interview. Good reporters will stay silent until you complete your thought. Do not keep talking if you have completed your thought. The act of continuous talking could cause you to lose focus and muddle your messaging. This can be especially problematic for broadcast interviews, where your interview will be edited into sound bites.
Wear clothing that won’t pull focus from your message. Make sure your hair is neat and be aware of wrinkled clothing. You aren’t going for perfection. In fact, being too perfect isn't real. However looking professional is important. You are there to represent your organization. Stay away from a visual presentation that lends itself to distraction especially for broadcast interviews.
Stay calm and project confidence. Speak and act naturally. There is a reason you are being interviewed and you know why that is. You know all the answers to the questions being asked. If you don’t that is OK. If you are asked a question and you do not know the answer, tell the reporter you can find out that information and get back to them right away.